While Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Philip Bosco give us fine effective performances, watching the material is like visiting a nursing home.
Linney's Wendy is a neurotic thirty five year old who is having a non-emotional affair with a married fifty-two year old who has a dog she has greater feelings for. Her witting is not what she would like and her grant which she hints at coming from The Guggenheim Foundation is from FEMA. Brother Ben (Hoffman) is a PhD who also aspires to be a great writer. She is alone in Manhattan and he is alone in Buffalo.
Dad in Sun City, Arizona suffers from dementia, but his girl friend of twenty years, keeps him on in her home. It's her death that forces a crisis, good old dad must move out and that means a nursing home, near Ben in Buffalo. Wendy is never satisfied with the location and the lack of closeness leaves the kids asking very sensitive questions about death and burial.
What can be viewed as humor or comedy is irony stemming from the difficult situations which the children find themselves in. At the same time performances are stunning as the irony which shows in facial expressions, body movements and inflection makes us chuckle and hurt at the same time.
The Savages is a triumph of acting but not a lot of fun to watch.