The Savages – DVD Review

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The first time I saw the preview for this movie, it made me crack up a few times and looked really good. But, as we know, trailers can be deceiving.

That’s not to say The Savages is bad. It actually is quite funny. There are a few parts that can get a bonafide laugh out of you. But that’s not all the movie is. It’s also surprisingly depressing. Almost to the point where they need to sell anti-depressants with the movie, but not quite.

The story revolves around two siblings. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays older brother John, and Laura Linney plays Wendy and they are suddenly forced into caring for their aging father after his girlfriend dies. After they get him situated into a nursing home on the East coast, the rest of the story revolves around the arguments that come up about standard old people stuff, I would assume. Wendy doesn’t think the nursing home is nice enough, so she tries to get their father in a better home only to be turned down. John is more of a realist, realizing all the nursing homes are the same on the inside, because everyone there dies. But hey, that’s life.

Throughout all the varying arguments and situations, though, the movie you get a sense of resentment they all feel towards each other, the kids because their father abandoned them, and each other because all siblings hate each other. At least that’s my experience. Of course the John and Wendy come closer together through the caring for their father.

Each of the kids also have their own issues they are dealing with throughout the movie unrelated to each other. John is trying to write a book, all the while dealing with his girlfriend moving back to Poland. Wendy is dealing with her relationship with her married boyfriend while writing a play about their childhood. There’s enough closure at the end to satisfy most viewers, and there is a little opening unresolved relationship that is supposed to keep you wanting more.

Camera work is okay, with quibbles. There are some nice shots. They say in one of the special features that they used a handheld for the most part filming, and it shows. They used color pretty well in a couple places. In the scenes leading up to the father’s death a lot of the rooms have an orange or yellow tint to them showing warmth, then once he dies, most of the shots have a steely, cold blue tint to them. It’s effective, it lets the viewer know the dad is dead before the kids know.

Video is shaky. Not Blair Witch bad, but it’s noticeable. The audio is simple and well done.

The DVD release has trailers for other Fox Home Entertainment releases: The Family Stone, Bones, The Music Within, and Bonneville. There is also a featurette entitled “About the Savages” that has the cast and crew talking about the movie. Rounding out the disc are two extended scenes and a photo gallery with pictures from the set.

The Savages is one of the most depressing comedies in recent memory. If you’ve recently lost a loved one to dementia, I wouldn’t recommend it, as it would probably be hard to watch. But it’s a not a terrible movie. It’s funny, the story is good with a couple to many things going on at once, but it’s not impossible to follow.


Twentieth Century Fox presents The Savages. Written and Directed by Tamara Jenkins. Starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Linney and Philip Bosco. Running time: 113 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: April 22nd, 2008. Available at

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