A sister and brother face the realities of familial responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father.

4.5
A through-provoking look at the human condition

The Savages, by writer director Tamara Jenkins, is a brutally honest look at family, mortality and responsibility.

When Jon, and Wendy Savage's estranged father begins the slippery slope down the path of dementia, the siblings have no choice but to re-enter his life and place him in care.

Based on this plot, you could be forgiven for thinking that film is bound to be a downer… Far from it. Jenkins's script is seamless, irreverent and terribly moving.

She dives into a world that few of us care to think about yet encounter all the time; that of a dying or diminishing parent. She poses the question of responsibility and duty of care even when coming from a place of deep resentment.

Philip Brosco is bitingly good as Lenny Savage who was in fact a “savage father”. He neglected and abused his two children and drove their mother away.

Wendy, a budding playwright, tries desperately to exorcise her demons through her autobiographical play, which remains unproduced.

Her brother Jon, an overweight, depressed college professor, hides away in Buffalo avoiding any form of emotional commitment.

I loved the fact that Jon and Wendy are so flawed, creative and bright. It gives way to fiery dialogue and neurotic behaviour that offers great respite when situations become too painful.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Liney are exceptional as Jon and Wendy. They are two of the finest actors of their generation and the emotional depth and truth they bring to these roles is astounding.

And what a talent writer, director Tamara Jenkins is! Her film never succumbs to sentimentality, instead filling me with joy and sadness… not an easy thing to achieve.

This is a thought provoking look at the human condition and I highly recommend it - 4.5 stars. The Savages is currently screening in the Sydney Film Festival and will release nationally July 24.