(Philip Seymour Hoffman & Laura Linney)
Not, its not about Aborigines, but rather ‘dysfunctional-ese’; Hoffman & Linney play brother & sister, John & Wendy Savage – their daily routines are thrown into a tailspin when they learn that their father’s girlfriend has passed away & the deceased woman’s children want them to come & get their father out of ‘their’ house. Thrown into the mix is the fact that ‘dad’ has been displaying signs of ‘dementia’ lately exhibiting abnormal & disgusting behavior at times.John lives in Buffalo – Wendy, N.Y.C.; John wants to dump dad in the nearest & cheapest ‘rest home’, while Wendy wants to ‘do the right thing’ for dad.
Though apparently dad was far from being an ideal parent, Wendy is constantly struggling with her feelings of guilt.Dad (Philip Boscoe) is a crotchety old coot who fades in & out – sometimes appearing to understand what is going on – sometimes having no idea where he is or who his speaking to him.None of the characters are all that likeable, but neither are they unworthy of our empathy, especially Wendy. There are many moments when you pity these people for the predicament they face. Don’t believe what the ‘promos’ say – this isn’t a comedy – it has its ‘smirking’ moments, but for the most part, it is brilliant only due to the natural performances of the actors; Hoffman & Linney’s ability to slide into another human’s body with relative ease is what makes this film worth viewing.
They are ‘real’ people dealing with a difficult period in their lives; the tale is fairly uneventful, highlighted only by nuanced performances that don’t stun you until the end & you realize this wasn’t a documentary – those were actors reading lines that were written for them.John & Wendy are a decent, though somewhat flawed pair of siblings – you get the feeling that if it wasn’t for the ‘dad problem’, they probably would never feel the need to speak to one another.And the problem with this movie is ‘Over-Hype’ by the critics.
It isn’t all that memorable of a story; you won’t leave the theatre thinking you’ve just seen a great film – In reality, it is a rather slow moving tale where nothing out of the ordinary happens. It is, in fact, a movie for fans of impressive character studies by two wonderful actors - & that’s not to discount the very impressive performance of Philip Boscoe as Lenny Savage.