Based on the “real life is stranger than fiction” story of the Baekeland family, heirs to the Bakelite fortune, this elegant and understated film shows the violence and brutality simmering beneath the surface of elite society, much like an Edith Wharton or Henry James novel. With all of the sexual politics, lies, betrayal, murder and incest involved with this crazy family, the movie was too elegant and understated for my taste. Maybe I’m a victim of the MTV/Internet age, but I was hoping Savage Grace would veer more toward Wild Things than The Remains of the Day territory.

I can definitely appreciate subtlety in movies, but some key plot points were almost too subtle to catch if you didn’t already have some knowledge of the case. Some more exposition about Barbara’s jealousy, Brooks’ motives and Tony’s mental illness might have made the story and characters more compelling.

All in all, it’s a fine movie about a messed-up family, who will probably be profiled on truTV or A&E soon. As always, Julianne Moore is excellent and I’m sure she will be listed on some critics’ lists at the end of the year. In the season of popcorn movies with no complexity, many of us will welcome a movie with some.

Grade: B-

Savage Grace releases in select theaters June 13.