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The Savages

Fear and self-laceration
By PETER KEOUGH  |  December 18, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for The Savages.

As soon as Laura Linney hits the screen, you know you’re in for bad luck and self-loathing, especially when her appearance is preceded by a dementia-afflicted father (Philip Bosco) rubbing feces on a bathroom wall. Wendy Savage, aspiring Manhattan playwright and desperate neurotic, can’t cope with this latest bad news from Sun City, so she calls up her seemingly more successful brother, Buffalo theater professor Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Jon’s calm and rational ineffectuality badly complements Wendy’s high-strung fecklessness, and nothing can help the old man, whom they both hate anyway. I’m glad to see the return of director Tamara Jenkins, idle since her wonderful Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). This outing too seems to be semi-autobiographical — there are some details that are just too excruciating and hilarious to be made up. But despite the note-perfect sibling pas de deux from Linney and Hoffman, The Savages sometimes feels like self-laceration. 113 minutes | Boston Common + Fenway + Kendall Square + Circle/Chestnut Hill + suburbs
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