The Savages at the Dryden

Tamara Jenkins' The Savages played at the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) and Ali and I went to see it. They also screened one of her short films from film school, Family Remains. It had a very stylized veneer and told the tale of a mother and daughter who need to confront the death of the divorced husband. It was generally pretty good, but obviously less skillfully made than Jenkins' later work.

The Savages was an excellent film as in its own right. It tells the tale of two siblings, Jon and Wendy, reunited when their father is diagnosed with dementia. They put him in a nursing home near where Jon lives in Buffalo and end up learning a lot about one another's lives in the process.

I was disappointed to that some scenes felt contrived — although Ali disagrees and enjoyed the organic serendipity of it. In one case, it's important for Wendy to meet with Howard, one of the caretakers at the nursing home. She had brought her cat from New York and is allowed to let it stay at the nursing home. I thought it contrived that the cat gets in a fight with another cat at the home, so when Wendy goes to get it, she and Howard end up cornering it under a couch which and end up having a conversation one-on-one.

In all, though, that's a minor fault. One of the best things about the film is that Laura Linney as Wendy and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jon are both excellent leads. To be completely honest, though, the movie is stolen by a perfectly invisible performance by Philip Bosco as their dad, Lenny.

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