Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 37
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 37
  3. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Jenkins' superlative work proves her first film was no fluke; let's hope it doesn't take another nine years to hear from her again.
  2. 91
    This movie provides no phony catharsis or closure; it develops a vision of people growing in spurts from their most terrible mistakes.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Smartly written and beautifully played, The Savages is about that point in life where you look around and realize that where you are is probably as far as you're going to get. In spite of this, the movie's a comedy, dry and humane.
  4. The Tony-winning Bosco, one of the great stage actors of the last 50 years, does a lot with a little in his restricted role; he's haughty, almost dignified by his angry silence. Linney and Hoffman stay pitch-perfect in their noisy desperation and sullen withdrawal.
  5. 88
    Both Linney and Hoffman are so specific in creating these characters that we see them as people, not elements in a plot. Hoffman in particular shows how many disguises he has within his seemingly immutable presence; would you know it is the same actor here and in two other films this season, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Charlie Wilson's War"?
  6. Reviewed by: Jessica Reaves
    A bracingly honest, funny movie about death and family that skillfully sidesteps the usual pitfalls of sentimentality and mawkishness. It’s what you might call an awards season miracle.
  7. The Savages is terrific -- a movie of uncommon appreciation for the nature and nurture that go into making us who we are, a perfectly calibrated drama both compassionate and unsentimental.
  8. A brutal encounter with mortality told with uncommon humanity, wit and humor.
  9. The Savages is a delightful movie--the perfect companion piece (and antidote) to the year’s other superb convalescent-dementia picture, "Away From Her."
  10. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It sounds grimmer than it plays, thanks to Jenkins's sardonic, deadpan humor and the superb cast, who invest these damaged characters with rich, flawed, hilarious humanity. This bittersweet X-ray of American family dynamics may not be a Hallmark-card notion of a holiday movie, but it's one any son or daughter can take to heart.
  11. A movie of absurdist humor, brutal realism and dementia.
  12. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    I generally resist calling any actor's work "brave" or "fearless" or any such thing, but Bosco's work here made me reconsider that self-imposed ban. It's incredible, harrowing, precise stuff.
  13. 88
    With the help of acting giants, Jenkins turns The Savages into a twisted, bittersweet pleasure.
  14. 90
    What makes the movie memorable is the precision of its tone, its finely calibrated combination of bitterness and warmth. Of course the acting is tremendous, and you'd expect nothing less.
  15. A darkly funny journey about life ticking by and the change to make wrongs right.
  16. 83
    The frequent outbursts of comedy help alleviate a tone that's appropriately muted and sad, and Jenkins should be credited for refusing to tack smiley-faces onto a tough, possibly lose-lose situation.
  17. It is more sad-funny than funny-funny, but Jenkins has enough empathy and wit to realize that even the sad parts are, somehow, funny.
  18. Tamara Jenkins’s The Savages, is a beautifully nuanced tragicomedy about two floundering souls.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    I wouldn't call the film inspirational -- it is too well observed to succumb to easy sentiment -- but its realism is patiently engaging and subtly insinuating. And Linney and Hoffman are extraordinary.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    While the film is heart-wrenchingly sad, it also is mordantly funny, uncomfortably prickly and above all, unflinching in its depiction of a believable sibling relationship.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jenkins brings a rigor, intelligence and eye for the slightly absurd to the proceedings that is instantly disarming.
  22. 90
    Bringing a tough, astringent wit to a subject too often wrapped in the cozy blanket of sentimentality or cute humor, Tamara Jenkins takes a frank look at the indignities of aging in The Savages, a black comedy that invites viewers to laugh or at least smile ruefully at the dying of the light.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 86 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 38
  2. Negative: 5 out of 38
  1. Sep 3, 2014
    Siblings' look at life, death, relationships and love. I never would have anticipated Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as an on-screenSiblings' look at life, death, relationships and love. I never would have anticipated Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as an on-screen match, but they are! Full Review »
  2. Aug 26, 2014
    The Savages is a very sad film to watch at times, but thankfully, tries to lighten up the mood at time with timely comedic elements. PhilipThe Savages is a very sad film to watch at times, but thankfully, tries to lighten up the mood at time with timely comedic elements. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are brilliant as the two Savage siblings tasked with dealing with the impending death of their father, with whom they had a distant and seemingly abusive relationship with. It is ultimately a beautiful look at family relationships and hardships faced by family throughout our lives. The film has a certain tenderness and heartfeltness that truly pulls you in and makes you feel one with the characters. It also does not hurt if you have had a loved one in this situation, as this film certainly hits home for many. While it is not a happy film, The Savages is a very good, even if depressing, film that really hits all of its marks. It is a very good family drama, comedy, and very poignant film concerning the reality of "rehab" clinics and nursing or retirement homes. As a whole, The Savages is bolstered by those elements, its great acting, and the great direction from Tamara Jenkins. Full Review »
  3. Aug 13, 2014
    The Savages is a tough movie. It deals with unpleasant themes such as mediocrity, failed relationships and taking care of aging relatives whoThe Savages is a tough movie. It deals with unpleasant themes such as mediocrity, failed relationships and taking care of aging relatives who did not do a good job at parenting. The results are excellent, thanks to the outstanding cast and script.

    It starts on a sarcastic note, with dad Lenny Savage (a great Philip Bosco) behaving badly in sunny Arizona. Lenny is an unpleasant old man, spending his retirement in a senior-only community. When his female companion dies suddenly, we learn that they were not married and that the house belonged to her. The woman's children want Lenny out ASAP, so his two estranged children, Wendy and Jon (equally great Linney and Seymour Hoffman) must come and take him back to the East Coast, where they live.

    Also due to their difficult childhood – only hinted at - Wendy and Jon have issues of their own, such as being unable to have healthy, long terms relationships. Wendy is involved in a dispassionate affair with a married man and Jon cannot commit to his long-term Polish girlfriend who must leave the US before being deported. The siblings have a strained relationship of their own, fed on the frustration of having both literary ambitions, but holding mundane jobs.

    The movie develops their relationship nicely, as the only metaphorical ray of sunshine in an otherwise frosty and desolate landscape. Despite the abuse they suffered at the hands of Lenny and a mother who just "left", they try to do their best to care for their hostile, demented dad, who does not show a shred of gratitude. The movie has a sort of melancholic humour and even manages to end with a much needed uplifting note. Definitely top-class film-making for discerning audiences.
    Full Review »