By the time a woman innocently greets the titular family with, "You must be the Savages," the double entendre should be unmistakable to viewers. The Savages concerns two adult siblings with separate lives who suddenly find they must locate a rest home for their ailing ill-tempered father whom they both have reason to abhor.
The brother (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a shielded no-nonsense type who wants to put the man (Philip Bosco) in the easiest place and get it over with; while the sister (Laura Linney), the movie's overt protagonist, finds a different way to reveal her savagery -- at times needy, guilty, selfish, and desperate, she's an aspiring writer in need of real perspective.
This acerbic black comedy-drama draws its strength mainly from the complex, familiar character of the sister, as written (and directed) by Tamara Jenkins and played expertly by Linney. It feels like a story told from personal experience, so if it isn't, then give the participants their due credit.
What The Savages might lack in scope and size, it makes up for with its honesty, surefootedness, and two more effortless turns by old reliables Hoffman and Linney. (Capsule review)
(Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures and rated "R" for some sexuality and language.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com.