On The Savages (2007):
A feckless father is now an aging creature of spleen and mental brokenness. He has dementia, and his grownup offspring, Jon Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his sister Wendy (Laura Linney), must locate an acceptable nursing home for him. They themselves have made little personal progress, though; albeit without spleen, they themselves are feckless. Example: the primary character here, 39-year-old Wendy is rightly chided by Jon for stealing from the federal government after applying for, and getting, FEMA money owing to 9/11 (all her temp jobs were close to Ground Zero, you see). Moreover, she is carrying on with a married man who wants her only for physical intimacy.
Still, Jon and Wendy know they are morally required to be humane to their father. Constantly they feel the tug of selfishness and the tug of responsibility. In a more sympathetic light, they try to preserve happiness and sanity as well as they can and are not wholly successful. At the end of this Tamara Jenkins film, there is no resolution regarding Wendy’s frequent lying and other moral flaws. Jenkins’s people do not change, which is too bad. The Savages would be stronger if at least one of them did.
Not surprisingly, the Savages are involved with the arts, with drama. No doubt they themselves are artists. A drama professor, Jon is working on a biography of Bertolt Brecht (he, too, was a savage), and Wendy is an aspiring playwright. All this probably reflects, on Jenkins’s part, a fondness for art and a desire to create it. And, yes, her movie is an artwork. Minor but still art. Not Brecht but still art. Support the arts and see it.