In celebration of Laura Linney’s birthday, We at Birds’ Eye View will be watching THE SAVAGES (2007)
Directed by Tamara Jenkins
“A richly nuanced American comedy, with two acting talents working at their absolute peak.” Empire
Laura Linney was born into a theatrical family; her father was the playwright Romulus Linney. She graduated from Brown University in 1986 and later studied at the Arts Theatre School in Moscow and graduated from the Juilliard School (M.F.A.) in New York City in 1990. She immediately began performing on Broadway, eventually earning praise for her roles in Six Degrees of Separation and Hedda Gabler.
In 2007 Linney portrayed a playwright still reeling from her dysfunctional childhood in The Savages, for which she was nominated for a third Academy Award.
Tamara Jenkins’s “The Savages” is a beautifully nuanced tragicomedy about two floundering souls. NY TIMES
Director, Tamara Jenkins began her career with a short film, 1991’s Fugitive Love, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Afterwards, she completed a congressional mandate associated with PBS to bring diverse programming to public television that was funded by the Independent Television Service. Another black-and-white short, 1993’s Family Remains, followed, which received a Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Short Filmmaking at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival.
Her debut feature film, 1998’s semi-autobiographical Slums of Beverly Hills, which she wrote and directed, played at both Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival. Based on her own experience growing up in Beverly Hills in the 1970s, the film is a dark comedy about a nomadic family in Los Angeles. Using photographs Jenkins had kept from her time at Beverly Hills High School, art director Scott Plauch and production designer Dena Roth were able to create an accurate period depiction of Beverly Hills, while also staying true to the autobiographical element which is key to the film’s success.
Starring Alan Arkin, Natasha Lyonne and Marisa Tomei, Slums of Beverly Hills was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards (Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay). Jenkins took a nearly decade-long hiatus to complete her next feature film. In the nine-year gap between her two films, she worked on an eventually abandoned screenplay about photographer Diane Arbus. Before returning to her next feature film, Jenkins branched out to explore theater, essay publications, and nonprofit film and TV work. In 2003, she directed The New Group’s theater production of A Likely Story, written and performed by David Cale.
Shortly after her marriage, Jenkins went to Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York, to work on the screenplay that would eventually become 2007’s The Savages. For this tragicomedy about a dysfunctional family dealing with the aftershocks of its patriarch’s elderly dementia, Jenkins took inspiration from her experiences with her grandmother and father, both of whom were in nursing homes with dementia. Jenkins’ father, who was much older than Jenkins’ mother, first needed care when she was in her 30s. Additionally, Jenkins built upon her theater work at The New Group, departing from her previously straight dramas to something far more absurd. The film layers a bright, doll-like color palette upon a bleak and often morbid story, relying on the savage wit of her screenplay to tie the film together.
With a modest budget ($8 million) and compressed shooting schedule of 30 days. Starring Laura Linney (who received her third Academy Award nomination for her role) and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film became a critical success after screening at numerous film festivals, including Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival. Jenkins was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
After the success of The Savages, it took Jenkins eleven years to make her third feature film, Private Life. When discussing the more than a decade-long hiatus, Jenkins noted that successful female directors do not often produce films at the same pace as their male counterparts, stating “It’s systemic. It’s gotta be systemic. There is something in the water.”
Two siblings who have not met their father in years undertake the responsibility of caring for him when he suffers from dementia. After the death of their father, they realise the meaning of family.
WHERE TO WATCH CLICK HERE