The Savages

Rated 3.0

Movies would be a little chillier without Laura Linney, and maybe a little warmer without Philip Seymour Hoffman; put the two together in the right combination—a dramedy of family disaffection, say—and a special kind of cinematic temperate zone occurs. That’s the strength of The Savages, in which a neurotic, depressive Linney and a blunt, grizzled Hoffman play estranged siblings with an allegorically portent last name and a father (Philip Bosco) succumbing to dementia. Dutifully they reunite for the poignant high jinks of mutual surrender. Writer-director Tamara Jenkins stocks up on astutely observed environmental and emotional details—for anyone who’s been there, it resonates—but is that enough? Even three elegant performances can’t conceal the fact that in its formula-eschewing, indie-movie way, The Savages feels formulaic. “Once you get inside these places, they’re all the same,” Hoffman’s character complains about nursing homes. The same could be said for the sort of movie he’s in.