Sunday, January 20, 2008
Yesterday SportMarty and I finally went to see The Savages. It was a nearly perfect film. It explored the death of an abusive parent and one of the most complex and long-lasting relationships there is - between siblings.
It got every detail right, down to the adminstrator pushing the legal documents towards Philip Seymour Hoffman rather than Laura Linney, to the sad, slow waltz you make to the bathroom with an ailing parent, to the reckless sampling the deceased's medication, to the type of car driven by the married lover (a vintage silver Volvo wagon). It was written and directed by a woman, Tamra Jenkins.
Plus they shot it in Buffalo. In the winter. When it was snowing. That takes some nakas.
It tugged at the emotions, yet somehow wasn't manipulative. In fact it was more funny than sad. Not once did it become sentimental; witness Linney wrenching her prized red pillow from the arms of a wrinkled woman in wheelchair, who screamed in anguish. There was never a scene where the siblings tried to placate or patronize their father.
Nor were the points Jenkins was trying to make driven into the ground; either you got it or you didn't (these included sutble slaps at institutionalized racism, mainstream attitudes towards the immigrant underclass, and self-indulgent bourgeoisie art; its details - such as how the airline gets a wheelchair-bound passenger from the gate to his seat - provided a sly commentary on just how dehumanizing life is today).
This was the second film in a row where I actually saw someone like myself on the big screen, which is a rare thing indeed. Linney played an unproduced NYC playwright who'd been raised by wolves and was coming to terms with her father's dementia and a bad relationship (thankfully they did not give this role to Jennifer Jason Leigh); in Starting out in the Evening Lili Taylor was an NYC yoga instructor dealing with her father's decline and trying to get herself heard in a recently-rekindled relationship.
Both women were single. And my age. And struggling with real issues. And not portrayed as pariahs.
Maybe this isn't such a bad year for movies after all.
After seeing the film, I had to call my brother (Dreyfus). It made me realize just how lucky I am to have him - a point my mother made again and again when he and I used to fight, and which was never driven home until after she passed.