Lenny Savage – the family patriarch – has been diagnosed with dementia and must now live in a convalescent home near Buffalo, where his son Jon lives. Lenny’s daughter Wendy is compelled to stay with her brother to assist in caring for her dying father, which causes her much outward grief and guilt, transformed into overzealousness and a strong desire to take care of every problem.
Through the situations that Jon and Wendy experience with their father, the film perfectly captures tragic, though sometimes comic, emotions and stresses. The problems both sides go through are equally represented, as when Mr. Savage is forced to turn down his hearing aid so as to not hear his children bickering over the best way to care for him; when his trousers come down while he is walking down an airplane aisle, exposing the adult diaper his condition now forces him to wear.
Equally hard, Jon and Wendy are forced to place their father in a less-than-desirable facility, which begs the question asked by Wendy, “Does it smell?” to which Jon quickly replies, “Yes, it smells. They all smell; it’s a nursing home.”
Hoffman and Linney play the roles as perfectly true to life as any actor could hope to in a performance. Their tears, laughter and soft-spoken confrontations with death reach a level where fiction and reality meet, easily making The Savages one of perhaps a few fictional films this year that could carry the preface “based on a true story” and get away with it.Grade: A
The Savages releases in select theaters Nov. 30.