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Movie Review: Savages

Alternate Title: Family Ties

Story: Cut to the chase - I loved this movie. Writer and director Tamara Jenkins has hit a home run with her second film. (Her first effort was the also terrific, Slums of Beverly Hills). She manages to take the difficult subject of putting one's estranged parent into a nursing home touching, authentic, emotional, heart-breaking and tender all at once.

Siblings John and Wendy Savage learn their absentee father is suffering from dementia and has no one to care for him after his long-time companion dies. How these two adult children, who have suffered with their emotional scars of being raised in a dysfunctional home cope with this situation is the meat of the film. I know it sounds depressing, but it is not. All of the characters are fully formed, three dimensional, very familiar and I deeply cared what happened to all of them.

The script is brilliant and Jenkins knows just how to cut the tension with very funny lines and vignettes. I have seen the trailer to this film. It is being marketed as a comedy. Do not be fooled - it is not a comedy at all. What it is - is an almost perfect cinematic presentation of a very real set of circumstances.

I am not sure how a younger audience will take to this film but if you or someone you know has or is dealing with this reversal of care-giving scenario you will definitely gain something from seeing this truly wonderful film.

It is about commitment, family, siblings and being able to grow up and beyond the psychic filial wounds of childhood. Go - you'll be better for it.

Acting: Laura Linney is nothing short of brilliant as the very flawed Wendy. I thought this was her best performance to date. Philip Seymour Hoffman never disappoints and he once again delivers a perfect performance as John. Philip Bosco as Leonard Savage hits the nail on the head. His character does not epiphany, show remorse or change. Bravo to one and all.

Predilection: I like good acting.

Critters: A cat named Genghis is terrific and has a large role as does the wonderful Yellow Lab, Marley.

Food: Cereal and eggs

Sex Spectrum: Laura Linney's sex scenes with her married lover are just funny.

Blatant Product Placement: Xanax, Percoset, Zocor and Tylenol

Soundtrack: A wonderful soundtrack with very funny tunes by the always fabulous Stephen Trask (Hedwig)

Opening Titles: The opening sequence will knock your socks off.

Visual Art: The opening sequence is cinematically brilliant. Kudos to cinematographer, W. Mott Hupfel III. The detail throughout the film in the siblings apartments and the nursing home are perfect as well.

Theater Audience: A packed crowd for a snowy Sunday morning.

Weather: Arizona is hot, Buffalo is snowy.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: It had my attention throughout.

Predictability Level: I was hopeful but was not really sure how this would end.

Tissue Usage: I welled up a bit at the very last scene.

Oscar Worthy: Absolutely. Both the acting and writing deserve nods.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. Rent any of Laura Linney or Philip Seymour Hoffman's films. You can't go wrong.

Length: Under two hours