Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Review - Savage Grace

This sexy drama directed by Tom Kalin tells the unforunate true tale of Barbara Daly, a would-be Hollywood starlet who marries above her class to Brooks Baekeland. The two have a son together Antony, whom the father feels is a dispointment to his family name and inheritance. What ensues is a twisted relationship between a mother and her homosexual son who develop a incestual co-dependancy for eachother in the asbence of his father and her husband.

Julianne Moore stars as Barbara Daly Baekeland and delivers as expected. Her portrayal of Daly was alarming and extremely moving throughout the entire film. Moore gives some of her best work within this film showing us a various range of emotion in what was a clearly emotionally disturbed woman. Daly was known for making rude outbursts normally, of which we see many, and facing severe battles with depression that greatly affected her character. Moore shines throughout all of the film, showing us again why she is always at the top of her game in dramatic roles.

Eddie Redmayne who plays Antony Baekeland was abosultely riveting in his performance. Redmayne did a captivating job protraying a young man who only wanted to make his father proud while still remaining loyal to his mother. Some of Redmanye's best work in the film are in his monologues, letters he writes to his father. They convey his emotion and desire to make his father happy, while displaying his frustation with his father's abandonment of the family. Always trying to convey that he did not hurt him but instead his mother, leaving Antony to care for his mother in all of her struggles. Again, Redmayne does an oustanding job of keeping the viewers full attention in what, at times, can be hard to watch material.

I found myself wanting more of story about Antony, rather than Barbara Daly in points. Not that Moore's protrail didn't hold my attention, but I found the result of Barbara's actions on her son to be more intriguing. Barbara develops an incestious relationship with her son, of which, the affects are detrimental to his well-being. Antony Baekeland was believed to have suffered from schizophrenia which added to his erratic and threatening behavior. I felt the film would have more to offer if it had focused a litter longer on his struggles with his twisted relationship with his mother and its dreadful outcome. The conclusion of the film only gives us post script notes, that do not do justice to the rest of Antony's story and leave the viewer wanting a more fulfilling ending. Considering the film is only 97 minutes long, it could have easily strecthed itself into 120 minutes without being too lengthy and still retaining its meaning and depth.

Overall Savage Grace is a haunting look at the life of Barbara Daly Baekeland that does a decent job illustrating her demise. Kalin's direction focuses most of it's energy on Barbara's demise and how it came to be. Instead of focusing on how her illness impacted the people she loved around her. The downside is that the storyline dances around the relationship and its affect on her son, Antony. Ultimately, Savage Grace leaves the viewer at times questioning Antony's reactions to the unnatural relationship and its overall impact on him.