Wednesday, June 11, 2008

From The Savages

I just saw The Savages (2007, now on DVD), and it's pretty plain to me that Tamara Jenkins, who both wrote and directed the film, well deserved the Academy Award for best original screenplay (she lost to Diablo Cody, who wrote Juno). Like, say, Sideways, The Savages is a film for grown-ups. The story focuses on siblings who must decide what to do about (or for, or with) a parent who's failing. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney offer brilliant performances as Jon and Wendy (apt names!), adult children trying to do the right thing, still caught in the bickering and rivalry and emotional distance of a dark childhood. Philip Bosco is their father Lenny, a man whose anger and intolerance remain frightening even as he passes into dementia. A brief scene late in the movie gives an idea of what he was like in earlier years.

Here's one bit of dialogue, when Jon and Wendy find their father tethered to a hospital bed:

Lenny: So do something! You're the doctor!

Jon: I'm gonna go get somebody.

Wendy: He's not that kind of doctor, Dad.

Lenny: I thought he was a doctor.

Wendy: A doctor of philosophy. He's a professor, of theater.

Lenny: Like Broadway?

Wendy: No, Dad, like theater of social unrest.

comments: 5

Geo-B said...

Coincidentally, we rented Savages and watched it on Saturday--just amazing to see two actors like Linney and Hoffman, at the top of their game, interact. Like Wallace Shawn, by the way, Linney's father is a playwright.
When I finished my Ph.D., my brother got me a T shirt that said "Doctor." I was afraid to wear it out of the house, for fear someone would start choking and expect me to help.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, "Doctor" is a heavy title. As my wife Elaine says, "A doctor is someone who fixes your knee." I ask my students to call me Professor Leddy or Mister Leddy, but I answer to "Doctor Leddy" too.

I know Hoffman's acting better than Linney's, but I've never seen either in a bad role.

Geo-B said...

But if you look in the O.E.D. you have to go through a lot of teachers and professors before you get to someone who fixes your knee (No. 7).

Michael Leddy said...

I never realized that. I liked this definition: "a title originally implying competency to teach such subject or subjects, but now merely regarded as a certificate of the highest proficiency therein." Ha!

Geo-B said...

It seems like the long ago doctors weren't medical doctors, like Dr.Johnson, Dr. Arnold (Matt's pa), Dr. Livingstone (maybe). The medical doctors aren't called Dr.,like Checkhov, Somerset Maugham, Michael Crichton, William Carlos Williams. Dr. Spock (yes), Dr. Seuss (no).