IFC Films | Release Date: May 30, 2008
5.6
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Mixed or average reviews based on 21 Ratings
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5
SpangleFeb 24, 2017
Savage Grace, in spite of being listed as a drama, is a film that plays akin to a psychological thriller. It also likely ranks as one of the worst films one could watch with their parents. It strikes me as though that would be quite awkward.Savage Grace, in spite of being listed as a drama, is a film that plays akin to a psychological thriller. It also likely ranks as one of the worst films one could watch with their parents. It strikes me as though that would be quite awkward. Based on the true story of Barbara Baekeland (Julianne Moore) and her son Antony (Eddie Redmayne), the film details their life beginning with the birth of Antony. Moving frequently around Europe, separating from her husband, Antony beginning to explore his homosexuality, and Barbara trying to turn him straight by having sex with her son (yep), the film culminates with the real life murder of Barbara by Antony. Shocking, scandalous, and oddly horrifying, Savage Grace is not a perfect film, but it is an incredibly unique psychological drama blended with character study.

As always, Julianne Moore is tremendous. A deeply twisted character, Moore nails the role, as does Eddie Redmayne. Both are incredibly cold, chilling, and distant. Neither wear their hearts on their sleeves, opting for a far more reserved demeanor that feeds into their method speaking. In this film, it almost sounds like somebody else is talking for Redmayne and he is nervously looking around to see who is talking. As these eccentric billionaires, both are incredibly believable. Suffering from schizophrenia and an Oedipus complex, Redmayne's Antony is terrific constantly (to an annoying degree) saying "mommy". By the end, when they actually sleep with each other, it is entirely believable even if it is still incredibly shocking. The ground work had been laid due to how odd these two are, which contributed to how odd their relationship was and how open both were. Yet, Savage Grace is not perfect. In its depiction of schizophrenia the film misses the mark. Though Redmayne does it justice, the film seems to forget Antony has schizophrenia until the very end. Done through voice-over and the epilogue, the film forgets to develop that angle of him and leaves it up to the imagination of viewer. While this is rewarding sometimes, it can also leave the audience in the dark too much and unaware anything is wrong with him beyond being the garden variety odd guy. In essence, the film is far too focused on the incest and not the schizophrenia that is also a culprit in why Antony killed his mother. Instead, they just paint him as a mama's boy who goes around saying "mommy" and bringing men/women home while providing voice-over about how much he and his mother discussed his sex life. Thus, the film sort of forgets to develop one of its major parts.

The film also struggle until Redmayne arrives. Flying through his youth, the film is in a rush to start building up to the incest and cannot do much when he is a kid. The end result is a smattering of shots from a collection of cities that simply goes by too fast and nothing ever comes of these sequences. In essence, they are ground work and an introduction to the characters and the only part that matters is when Barbara goes home with a strange man in front of her husband. At that point, we know she is wild. Otherwise, skipping the beginning and jumping to Redmayne would be well advised. The film also struggles at the end. No spoilers, since it is true, but when he kills his mother, it is far too abrupt. They are just talking and boom. It is likely true, but it simply feels too anticlimactic. Only those really paying attention could see him grab the knife and decide to stab her. That said, the follow-up is decidedly cold blooded and drives home just how messed up he is in his mind.

Missing the mark in the beginning and slightly off-the-mark at the end, Savage Grace finds its groove in the middle when Moore and Redmayne can go toe-to-toe. Both giving disconnected upper class psychopath performances, the two are cold, calculated, and deranged. Depicting the incest in a somehow-not-exploitative fashion, the film turns it itself into an absolutely chilling psychological drama that is a thoroughly twisted watch. That said, were it not for Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne, Savage Grace would be a far worse film.
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7
pdw123Sep 19, 2016
Unfortunately, I have to give this film (which could have been directed and adapted much better) only 2 stars, notwithstanding the wonderful performance by Julianne Moore. She had some horrible material to work with here. The resultant storyUnfortunately, I have to give this film (which could have been directed and adapted much better) only 2 stars, notwithstanding the wonderful performance by Julianne Moore. She had some horrible material to work with here. The resultant story is too shallow to be fully appreciated, although obviously the story of a hedonistic, amoral son growing up in the rich and infamous world could have been much more interesting. Next time, more research guys!! Expand
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2
juderobeOct 18, 2010
Who said that evil is banal? Banality is the problem with this film which is technically well-made and cast with mesmerizing actors--especially the young ones; the son and the girlfriend and the son's lover. What motivates
the mother? Why is
Who said that evil is banal? Banality is the problem with this film which is technically well-made and cast with mesmerizing actors--especially the young ones; the son and the girlfriend and the son's lover. What motivates
the mother? Why is her behavior so far off balance? Julianne Moore may have done better with a more filled out characterization. When the film began I immediately thought of a far more effective characterization of a borderline personality--Nancy in the film, "Sid and Nancy." And the film seriously underplays what has happened to the son--until the devasting finale. The real son, who this character was based on, in life, showed extreme behavioral signals, not just the enuie and lassitude we see here.
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6
MichaelHApr 11, 2009
Movie could've been great if not for several major flaws. Clocking in at around 90 minutes, it was way too short to instill any story and could've benefited from at least another half hour of development. The story is very disjoint Movie could've been great if not for several major flaws. Clocking in at around 90 minutes, it was way too short to instill any story and could've benefited from at least another half hour of development. The story is very disjoint and events and characters are forgotten as suddenly as they were introduced. The movie is basically just a series of powerful scenes, all independent of each other however. Julianne Moore also plays pretty much the same thing she always plays. Fairly disappointing. Expand
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6
JayHSep 18, 2008
Julianne Moore is terrific as always, stylish, perhaps too much so. The art direction and costumes are great. The main problem with the film is that none of the characters are appealing. But, it's worth watching.
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1
DavidMJul 3, 2008
Some of the scenes feature brilliant acting and the film has great visual and aural appeal, but I never felt emotionally invested in any of the characters - I felt like the director was more interested in flirting with alienating the Some of the scenes feature brilliant acting and the film has great visual and aural appeal, but I never felt emotionally invested in any of the characters - I felt like the director was more interested in flirting with alienating the audience with his characters' flaws and indecency than in weaving meaning into the story. Expand
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10
[Anonymous]Jun 6, 2008
An amazing film. It pulls you so deeply into the story. Suspenseful and ultimately shattering. Tom Kalin is a great filmmaker.
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