» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

February 18, 2008
RATING: 7/10
Greetings, good people! I have been enjoying three days of a work conference in yon Colonial Williamsburg! Everything is so pleasant here; there are guys in three-cornered hats, sheep safely grazing, and everywhere is the scent of a wood-burning stove. The only blight on this "revolutionary experience," as they keep calling it, is the fact that a little voice in my brain keeps reminding me, "At some point, you have to sit down and write something about The Savages."

The Savages, a little film about what it's like to put a dementia-addled parent into a nursing home (written and directed by Tamara Jenkins and nominated for a couple of Oscars), is probably the exact opposite of a joyful, wood-burning-stove-scented, Colonial conference. It's not that I didn't feel that the film was well-made. On the contrary, it's actually a pretty perfect representation of the guilt and self-disgust one feels while inexpertly dealing with an aged parent. But, by King George!, if I wanted to be reminded of the grayest and most unpleasant parts of my day-to-day life (parts that I have gotten shamefully good at stowing away so that I don't have to face them unless absolutely necessary), I wouldn't be seeking escape at the movies!

I understand why there have been an increasing number of films made that address such thorny issues in a bleak and realistic manner, I really do. Hip filmmakers and their hip audiences are fast approaching the age where these sorts of things are becoming more and more relevant. You work through your feelings by turning them into art, and you hope that said art resonates with its intended audience. Well, la-de-effing-da, Tamara Jenkins. It resonated. Good for you. Now go make a movie about an 18th-century American family who makes their own candles and barrels and heroically fights to lessen the tax on butter churns.

Yes, yes, I am being a little harsh. I don't really mean it. I know it's not everybody who happens to have a situation eerily similar to that of siblings Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) Savage. Not now, anyway. But - and I hate to be the one to have to tell you this - there's an excellent chance that one day you will. And for that reason, I feel like The Savages should be required viewing for young and old alike. Because as much as I bluster on about the film, the reason it made me so uncomfortable was its accuracy. It's easy to relate to Wendy Savage, as she constantly second-guesses her own decisions, but it's just as easy to feel for Jon, who wants to take action, accept the inevitable, and move on. Guilt, shame, powerlessness, and an inability to equate this confused old person in front of you with the powerful figure from your childhood - these things have been happening to adult children for centuries, and it's not likely to get any better, science be damned. Lest it be painted as a complete downer, one thing this movie can give you is the small comfort found in knowing that you're not the only one in this predicament, even as it reveals to you the unsavory duties, and their corresponding troubling emotions, that you are likely to experience at least once in your life.

And if you think that's bad, try watching Away From Her for a powerful glimpse of what it's like as the spouse of a dementia victim. Both films feel like spring training for a future part of our lives we don't think much about, beyond our 401(k) contributions, and the value of such cinematic resources are probably more than we can even understand at the moment. But all the same, I still stand behind this petition I just wrote to the residents of Hollywood en masse. It's entitled "Let Them Watch Stardust (And Leave Discomfort to Real Life)," and after you attend your required screening of The Savages, I will be standing outside of the theater with a clipboard and a pen. No matter how much you enjoy the film, I'm willing to bet you'll want to sign.

SEE ALSO: www.foxsearchlight.com/thesavages

Susan Howson
A staff writer attending graduate school in Richmond, VA, Susan Howson cannot be persuaded to stop talking about movies.

See other articles by Susan Howson.



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