This tale of the Baekeland clan starring a comely Julianne Moore (Children of Men) is too much of a lurid soap opera.
Savage Grace quickly catches into said folks (heirs of those who created plastic) from 1946 to 1972 under the flamboyant helming of Tom Kalin.
Moore's Barbara Daly Baekeland enjoys her diva lifestyle as an actress and painter with an estranged yet controlling husband (Stephen Dillane of The Hours). Their high life with son Tony, played by Barney Clark then Eddie Redmayne, heads from the City of Lights along the Mediterranean. Tony comes across as bright before more contentious as he develops relations with a lovely girl (Elena Anaya) and a hard-boiled boyfriend (Unax Ugalde).
Audiences will easily notice the fact of Barbara hardly aging over nearly a generation which emphasizes the perspective from her son fantasizing such a Venus-like individual. The closeness of Tony with her and her fashion assistant (Hugh Dancy of Evening) puts Redmayne into a tough position when asked to efficiently convey a young man's volatility and neuroses.
Moore, on the other hand, manages to bring out the best in Barbara's vulnerability while maintaining a rather imposing presence. Kalin lets her be the objectifying colorful figure who happens to be a part of what is often startling, witty, and emotive. And, Dillane finds the right plance as the unflappable, distant spouse.
The filmmaking and acting, however, with its garish coerciveness, can't make the cliched sum feel too much without any meaningful narrative cohesion. The fragmented, cautionary Savage Grace finds the ferocious, the idealistic and the romantic from the unintentional suggestion of parental guidance.