Dave White
The Savages Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

… an inherently unnerving humiliation-comedy …

Who's in It: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco, Peter Friedman

The Basics: Dad gets a little Alzheimer's-y, and it's off to the nursing home. His estranged daughter feels guilt. His equally estranged son feels nothing — save for duty and some irritation at his sister. You'll feel discomfort as it goes where most films about old age refuse to: into nursing homes and the inherently unnerving humiliation-comedy that takes place inside them.

What's the Deal? This funny movie — well, OK, if you think people screaming about nursing homes being living cemeteries while old people roll by in wheelchairs through the shot is funny — sort of feels like the beginning of the wave of baby boomers and Generation Xers figuring out what to do with their parents when they get old, sick and near death. And what better way to get that ball rolling than an ambivalent and dark comedy about two narcissistic siblings squabbling over how to let their father go ahead and die? Give me that over warm, golden goodbye scenes, please.

What Makes It Worth the Time Even Though, as a Comedy, It's Also a Bummer: Hoffman and Linney act so much like grumpy siblings, maybe ones you even know, maybe ones you're even related to, that you'll want to smack them both. I mean that in a good way. Without their performances, it could have all gone sour instead of dismally hilarious.

What's Truly Annoying About It — and This Is Kind of a Spoiler: The ending wraps up too neatly and lets its people off the hook in a way that felt like pandering to the audience's typical needs for resolution, even at the expense of how stuff usually goes down in real life. As a man whose own mother lives in a nursing home, which makes me kind of an authority on how close this movie comes to the truth, I call B.S. on the semi-happy final act.

If You Can Handle This One, Try: Away From Her, a seriously amazing and heartbreaking drama that stars Julie Christie as a woman with Alzheimer's and her husband's struggle to deal with her forgetting who he is.

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