NPR logo 'The Savages'

'The Savages'

Savage love: Underprepared siblings (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) wrestle with the ties that bind when their father is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Andrew Schwartz/Fox Searchlight Pictures hide caption

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Andrew Schwartz/Fox Searchlight Pictures

Savage love: Underprepared siblings (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) wrestle with the ties that bind when their father is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Andrew Schwartz/Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • Director: Tamara Jenkins
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

Director Tamara Jenkins opens her briskly engaging tragicomedy with octogenarian cheerleaders in a geriatric fantasyland — an oddly logical start for a film that'll go to all-too-familiar places with uncommon verve and imagination.

The story involves siblings John and Wendy Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney), who've managed to reach middle age without growing up, and who suddenly find themselves dealing with a long-estranged father (Philip Bosco) when he's diagnosed with dementia.

Doesn't sound like a riot, I know, but Jenkins and her actors find savage wit and no little grace in the rejiggering of relationships and the reordering of lives. Linney, Hoffman and Bosco are among the screen's most natural actors, and their work here is so eloquently unforced, you almost feel part of their supremely dysfunctional family. (Recommended.)