Monday, December 8, 2008
The Savages is an independent film released in 2007 and has been called a "coming of maturity" story. It's a very real picture of a family dealing with the illness of a parent. Siblings Jon and Wendy Savage are busy with their own complicated lives when the death of their estranged father's girlfriend forces them to back into his life. Their father, Lenny, is diagnosed with dementia and Parkinson's. In a short time, they have to move Lenny from Arizona to New York and find a nursing home to place him.
Below is the movie trailer.
One of my favorite scenes is when Jon and Wendy have to discuss advanced directives with Lenny.
Wendy: Okay. In the event... In the event something should happen- Um- How- How do you want us to... Um-
Jon: Dad, what if you were in a coma? Would you- would you- would you want a breathing machine to keep you alive?
Lenny: What kind of question is that?
Jon: It's a question we should know, in case.
Lenny: In case what?
Jon: In case something happens.
Wendy: Nothings gonna happen. Right now. Nothing new.
Jon: Right, it's- it's just procedure. It's something they want for the records.
Wendy: The people who run the place. The Valley View.
Lenny: What the hell kind of hotel is it?
Jon and Wendy sort out their own social lives while, for the first time, having to take on the responsibility of caring for their aging parent. I found that this movie hits pretty close to the mark of the normal American family. It's very realistic how Jon and Wendy deal with a crisis in completely different ways, one more logical, one more emotional. Wendy has a lot of guilt over placing Lenny in a nursing home, even though she know it's really the only choice. Below is Jon talking to Wendy as she tries to get Lenny into a more exclusive nursing home.
"...You are the consumer they want to target. You are the guilty demographic. The landscaping, the neighborhoods of care; they're not for the residents, they're for the relatives. People like you and me who don't want to admit to what's really going on here...People are dying, Wendy! Right inside that beautiful building right now, it's a f***ing horror show! And all this wellness propaganda and the landscaping, it's just there to obscure the miserable fact that people die! And death is gaseous and gruesome and it's filled with shit and piss and rotten stink!"
I was struck by all the losses Lenny experienced: his girlfriend, his mental faculties, his independence, his dignity, his privacy... Another very realistic aspect of the movie.
On a side note, the nursing home staff has a very interesting prognostic sign. Apparently toes curling under means someone only has a few days left.