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Old Age is Nonsense in Tamara Jenkins’s Savages (2007) August 14, 2008

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Hollywood.
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Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Linney, Philip Bosco

It is marvelous how you could easily consider a film great because of its actors. In this business where some people equate the outcome of the film to the competence of its actors, casting proves to be very significant. One wrong move, everything falters. Try to imagine Citizen Kane without Orson Welles or There Will Be Blood without Daniel Day-Lewis – – Charles Foster Kane and Daniel Plainview as two towering figures in American cinema – – and the point becomes clear. In this case we have a lovely pair of seasoned thespians, Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Laura Linney as siblings who are obliged to take care of their father who is suffering from dementia. Old age in capital letters. We all know that he’s going to die and his children are about to face the difficulties of nursing him, or, as where it eventually leads to, they have to find a rehabilitation center or a nursing home for the aged, whatever, to dispatch him so that they could go on with their lives, no matter how distant, no matter how insensitive it sounds. Hoffmann and Linney are able to take the meat of Tamara Jenkins’s smartly-written script and share it with us, their eccentricities marked by the cunning ability to induce a spectrum of emotions just by simple movements or facial expressions, Hoffman with his sublime nonchalance and Linney with her audacious quips, their presence is wild enough to have your eyes glued on the screen – – Hoffman and Linney can do no wrong. What moves me is the sad future of myself, of you, of every one of us, decrepit, weak, brain cobwebs, osteoporosis, wheelchair, lost logic, lingering sadness. Jenkins shows that – – in sharp wit and disarming charm I can’t find any trouble in kicking the bucket this early. * * * *

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