Monday, July 7, 2008

Savage Grace

Movie name: Savage Grace
Year of release: 2007
Director: Tom Kalin
Stars: Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Dancy, Elena Anaya, Abel Folk, Belen Rueda, Martin Huber
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:When Tom Kalin's first film "Swoon" came out in 1992, he was hailed as part of the new queer movement, which included Todd Haynes (who released "Poison" in 1991), Gregg Araki (who directed "The Living End") and Rose Troche (director of "Go Fish"). 15 years and a couple of shorts later, his follow up is again based on a true event (much like "Swoon"), more precisely the true crime story of the Baekeland murder and suicide. Barbara and Brooks Baekeland were a rich couple, him from inheritance, she a former actress, from marrying into the family. When their child Tony was born, their relationship was already deteriorating, something that as the years passed by became more apparent. Tony however developed a close relationship with his mother, who always cherished and appreciated his presence, unlike his father that always kept him at bay. When Tony became an adult - and his ambiguous sexuality, his father decided to leave his family life and begin living with his mistress, a previous girlfriend of Tony's.
The film covers all these years in the lives of the Baekeland's, always focusing on Barbara and her relationship with Tony. What is implied throughout the film, becomes more visible in the final act, when the incestuous relationship becomes real. The film focuses wisely in Julianne Moore's portrait of Barbara - an ambitious, loving and misunderstood woman, that longs for something that she simply can't attain. Tony is not only her son, he's her companion, and in that sense the final act makes total sense in her life. They are equals. Tony's own life and grasp of reality is at most very unbalanced - from his own sexuality, to his personal longings and his relationship with his father. All the actors do a fine job of bringing to reality these characters, with particular focus to Julianne Moore, that channels a bit of her character from Todd Haynes' "Safe" and also Stephen Dillane, that embodies the cold detachment perfectly. Eddie Redmayne however doesn't convince totally, mostly because he never seems to fully embrace the character. His despair is never tangible, neither his longing - in the end it feels mostly like boredom. Tom Kalin does a good job bringing all these elements together, however the art direction and photography leave a lot to be desired. An interesting film nonetheless.