The Savages Tamara Jenkins

The Savages Tamara Jenkins
In her first feature since 1998’s amusing Slums of Beverly Hills, writer/director Tamara Jenkins switches gears and moves from the awkward stages of teenhood to the complications of adulthood. Again, Jenkins focuses on family dysfunction, this time with the trials of dealing with an elderly parent. When Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) Savage are notified that their father Lenny (Philip Bosco) needs to be placed in a nursing home, the estranged children are transformed into caregivers, a role neither of them are prepared for. For their own convenience, they remove him from a sunny Arizona retirement heaven to the bitter winter of Buffalo, a move that no doubt reflects their enthusiasm. Neither Jon nor Wendy has accepted their lives as grown ups: Jon teaches Brecht with the apathy of a teenager and can’t commit to his foreign girlfriend, while Wendy is a deluded playwright stuck in a relationship where she’s the other woman. This reality check tests their willingness to face the strained relationship with their once abusive father, a task they clearly don’t approach with compassion. Though The Savages could have easily been made with Will Ferrell and gone for cheap thrills and a massive box office take, Jenkins turns in a deeply heartfelt and often hilarious depiction of life at one of its worst moments. Her characters are true, with hesitancy and conflicted emotions that every one of us would feel in caring for someone with Lenny Savage’s character. The DVD is a little stingy with the extras, however. Two uncut outtakes lifted from the opening sequence are throwaway bonuses but a featurette entitled "About The Savages” at least gives some feedback from Jenkins, her cast and crew about the film and its heavy subject matter. Though I don’t see why a commentary would have been so difficult to give. (Fox Searchlight)