The Savages (2007)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 27-Nov-2008

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes-Extended Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 109:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tamara Jenkins
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Laura Linney
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Bosco
Peter Friedman
David Zayas
Gbenga Akinnagbe
Cara Seymour
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Stephen Trask


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dysfunctional middle-aged siblings Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) Savage come to terms with their family bond when they are forced to take care of their estranged father (Philip Bosco) after his partner dies.

    Wendy is an office temp with aspirations to becoming a playwright. She lives alone and is having a half-serious relationship with a married man.

    Jon is a drama professor at a local university. He is struggling to complete a book about a Bertolt Brecht as he comes to terms with the fact his girlfriend has left him because her visa has run out.

    Dad has developed dementia and/or Alzheimer's and requires round-the-clock care, which the siblings find for him in a nursing home near Jon's crumbling old house.

    The pair mope about their own lives as cheerfully as they do the task of looking after a father whom they initially seem to spare little love for. Thankfully, as always seems to be the case with these things (in the movies at least), they begin to make some sense of their lives as they sort out their father's condition.

    The Savages suffers from trying to be both a serious drama and a black comedy. Whilst the individual comedic scenes and dramatic scenes generally work, the many scenes that play both angles come out flat as the two aspects manage to undermine one another. Things may have worked out better had there been a bit more ambiguity between the two aspects throughout the whole film. Writer/director Tamara Jenkins' efforts to create something that works on the comedic and dramatic fronts also manage to draw the film out much longer than it should be. The Savages is certainly one of the more questionable Oscar nominations for "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".

    On the other hand, it was quite deserving of its "Best Actress" nomination for Laura Linney, who brings a genuine sense of authenticity to what frequently seems an underwritten character. Both Philip Seymour Hoffman and veteran character actor Philip Bosco bring a great level of depth to their characters without overdoing anything or labouring their point. Well-balanced acting by the cast as a whole manages to hold the film together, making it an enjoyable experience even if you are left feeling that it should have been better than it was.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is rather disappointing, even for an indie dramedy such as this. The image is soft throughout, almost like it is hiding behind a screen of Vaseline, and colours are washed out in the lighter scenes and overly orange/brown in the darker scenes. Blacks look crushed, though shadow detail is fair. A mild level of grain is visible throughout.

    Excessive edge enhancement artefacts are present throughout, and frequently stick out like a sore thumb over the soft video. There is no sign of compression issues or film artefacts.

    White English subtitles are present for the feature. Based on the portion I sampled, not only are they clear and easy to read but they are carefully placed on screen to best fit the frame and indicate whose dialogue they represent. A commendable effort

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 55:51 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A single English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track is present for the film.

    The mix is noticeably muddy and lacks mid and top end clarity. This makes the dialogue quite hard to discern at times, particularly when characters are whispering. The audio appears to be in good sync, though.

    The film features a fitting, though innocuous, score by Stephen Trask (whose post-Hewig and the Angry Inch career has been disappointingly bland).

    The film makes very little use of anything but the centre channel throughout. The only real exception being the score, which occasionally reaches all the channels. Even the front left and right channels are rare used for anything other than music. There is little in the way of subwoofer usage, even in support of the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The disc opens with an unskippable anti-piracy ad and three skippable trailers before moving on to a fairly appropriate animated menu.

Making Of Featurette (20:33)

    An overlong press-kit "making of" that fawns over the inspiration for the film and its meaning. If that isn't enough to put you off watching it, the featurette appears to have been shot in a 1.78:1 aspect but has been squashed to a 1.33:1 aspect, causing everything to be dramatically vertically stretched.

Extended Scenes (7:42)

    Two extended "scenes" which are not so much scenes as they are extra footage of two completely irrelevant sequences that have nothing to do with the plot or main characters. One is footage of some elderly dancers from the opening shot of the film. The other is some bland live entertainment at a hotel bar. A complete waste of time.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 edition of the disc features the same content as the Region 4 edition, as well as a full-frame version of the film (on the same disc as the widescreen version). By all accounts, it also manages to present the "making of" featurette in the correct ratio.

Summary

    Part drama, part black comedy, The Savages is entertaining but somewhat of a missed opportunity. Excellent acting keeps the ship afloat, whilst an underwhelming, meandering script tries to sink it.

    The video is mediocre, with no thanks to the soft image and excessive edge enhancement. Likewise, the audio is disappointing, due to a muddy mix and forgotten surround channels. The limited extras are not worth the effort and suffer video problems.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, March 02, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Were we watching the same film? - REPLY POSTED
Were we watching the same film? -