American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"The Savages" seems a curious movie to be opening four days before Christmas, but maybe not: Christmas Day itself is said to be the top moviegoing day of the year, as families (a) seek something they can do together without having to talk, or (b) use them as a excuse to escape from the house. Not all holidays are by Norman Rockwell, and maybe some grown children will enjoy this touching, humorous film about an elderly father whose time has come to leave his "retirement community" and move into "assisted living" (which my Aunt Mary referred to as "assisted dying").
Wendy and Jon Savage (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) are sister and brother, she living in New York City, he living in Buffalo; she an aspiring playwright, he a professor and author of books about the theater. They are smart, articulate and knowledgeable about drama, attributes that do them no good at all when they get a call from Sun City that their dad, Lenny (Philip Bosco), has started to write on the wall with his excrement.
After some reluctance, mostly on Jon's part, they fly to Arizona and find their dad shacked up with Doris, a girlfriend his age. I was reminded of a friend of mine whose 85-year-old dad discovered Viagra and insisted on calling his son with daily reports on his sex life. My friend pleaded with him to spare the details. There are some things children desperately do not want to know.
Doris spares them the occasion for such reports, however, by suddenly passing away, and Jon and Wendy decide to move their father to Buffalo so he will be close to them. He is a hostile curmudgeon who probably moved to Arizona to get away from them, but now he's in no position to resist.