Savage Grace (2007/Genius/IFC DVD)
Picture: C Sound: B- Extras: C Film: C+
has made many films in his time, but it turns out that only two of them are
features. Swoon (1992) was a prominent part of the Gay New Wave dealing with
the murderous duo Leopold and Loeb. Shot
in the grey-scale black and white of the time, it was the first film to focus
directly on the relationship of the men (their homosexuality was
ignored/vilified in previous versions to various degrees, plus anti-Semitism
played a role) resulting in a mixed film with mixed success. 15 years later, he follows that up with Savage Grace (2007) telling the ugly,
painful, sad tale of money, power and incest like nothing since Roman
Polanski’s Chinatown. Too bad it is nowhere near as good.
the actors don’t risk all. Julianne
Moore is raw and thankless as Barbara Daly, a woman who is psychotic, marries
into money (the Bakelite plastics dynasty) and it is a crazy relationship for
the books. They even have a child. As her son Tony (Eddie Redmayne, who narrates
as the character’s highly damaged first person) covers his story and hers. He has to take care of her at times, he finds
out he is gay, she is domineering of everyone around her and eventually, she
cuts into his gay relationship and the incestual implications become increasing
explicit to the point of no return.
very ugly and horrific not just because of the acts, but of implication to the
narrative context and the reality of the matter. No matter how historically accurate (and it
seems on the money for the most part) it reminds us that money and power are
not always a haven for happiness and wellness.
However, despite its daring, the film has no ironic distance from its
material and though I did not mind its cold nature (it could be no other way
considering the content), I did feel it had the same problem Swoon had in that
Kalin thinks showing things (graphic freedom included) is sufficient to show
the events in full, but that is not the case.
I give him credit for having the guts to do such an ugly and honest
film, but his monotone approach hinders him from making a breakthrough or even
a big statement about these events. In
the end, we are not surprised at anyone’s fate, like The Grifters with fewer dimensions.
Still, if you can handle the material and like the actors enough, you’ll
have to see it at least once for yourself, but brace yourself.
enhanced 1.85 X 1 image may be in color, sometimes good color, but is much
softer than expected and though there is not smearing, but clean is not clear
here. This was shot on 35mm film, but it
just does not always look it. Director
of Photography Juan Miguel Azpiroz shoots this to look rich and to keep us in
mind that we are always in disconnected areas of money and emptiness on some
level. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is
dialogue-based and has some good surround activity besides its Fernando
Velázquez score, all of which is fine for this kind of drama. Extras include a behind the scenes featurette
and back story featurette.
- Nicholas Sheffo