Savage Grace is the true story of an elite and controversial socialite family. Glamorously set in various, mainly international, cities from the 1940s through the 70s, we first meet the Baekeland family in a post World War II New York City. The wealthy, newly-with-child couple, Barbara (Julianne Moore) and Brooks (Stephen Dillane) are preparing for a dinner date with friends.



While the ritzy  big city setting; which is accentuated by a cool, smooth jazz soundtrack; is a nice backdrop for the film, the real strength of the movie is shown in this amazing dinner scene that follows. The film’s nastily dark tone is embedded right away when the couples are shown sitting around at a fancy restaurant, goofy and drunk, asking each other some disturbing questions (“Would you eat a pound of human flesh for 1 million dollars?”) that make for some really uncomfortable dinner conversation. And while Barbara is initially painted as a sensitive, motherly sweetheart; and Brooks a pessimistic, unloving jerk; their relationship dynamics become pretty mysterious when Moore switches off the Bambi role and shows some real nastiness.

Fast forward to Paris, 1959; their son Tony is now about 12 years old but Barbara and Brooks’ relationship doesn’t seem to be improving… However,  Tony and Barbara seem to be hitting it off. At first their mother-son relationship is really cute [Side note: I always find this kind of relationship, in which parents can have a mature relationship with their young child and can talk about real life issues (money, family problems, friendships etc.) really beautiful and touching to see onscreen and off. OK, 12 might be a little young but you know what I mean!] …but then that’s ruined pretty quickly. There is just something not right about the way she asks her son “Do you love me?”… Or the way they kiss. Okay, okay that’s enough! And SPOILER ALERT: it is one of those kinds of movies. Their relationship shown here, when he’s a young boy, foreshadows that.


Julianne Moore’s performance… Where do I begin? I love her, always have. Out of all the actresses out there today she is one near the very top of the list. Her performance in this is just another addition to a long list of mesmerizing roles from her. She goes from caring and gentle to nasty and scene-starting in the drop of a hat. Her acting is layered and outspoken; she’s confident and fearless in this more than I’ve seen from her in other roles.

As the movie goes on, the severely dark tone is emphasized when the graphic and uncomfortable moments become more and more common and tend to linger on screen for longer and longer. The movie has a hyper-stylized element to it’s unsettling scenes which make it thrilling and always a little bit scary to watch.



Once the third chapter hits, Tony is now probably around 19 years old and is portrayed by Eddie Redmayne (who’s also been dryly, almost sarcastically narrating the film on and off.) He grows up to be just as endearing and attractive as he is underdeveloped and childish; still surrounded by his mommy Barbara and carrying on his fastly growing dysfunctional relationship with her. Constant moving and growing up with entitled parents who hate each other didn’t seem to have a good effect on Tony.

As the years go by, Barbara seems to become more and more glamorous and put together while her temper tantrums and behavior get meaner and meaner. As beautiful as Moore is in this, the nasty character she plays always keeps her right at unlikable.



Once Tony becomes an adult, the movie’s mysteries are thrown out the window… And I won’t talk about the shocking scene that solidifies the fact that Barbara and Tony DEFINITELY don’t have a healthy relationship. When manic Barbara inevitably attempts suicide, Tony coldly explains that "taking care of mommy became (his) inheritance." And from there it’s all downhill.



Ending on a dark, horribly unhappy note, Savage Grace leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But the dialogue and performances clearly get across the strong theme of jealousy the movie is all about. It’s a hard watch but a good one.



B+



Watched on: Hulu

Savage Grace is the true story of an elite and controversial socialite family. Glamorously set in various, mainly international, cities from the 1940s through the 70s, we first meet the Baekeland family in a post World War II New York City. The wealthy, newly-with-child couple, Barbara (Julianne Moore) and Brooks (Stephen Dillane) are preparing for a dinner date with friends.

While the ritzy  big city setting; which is accentuated by a cool, smooth jazz soundtrack; is a nice backdrop for the film, the real strength of the movie is shown in this amazing dinner scene that follows. The film’s nastily dark tone is embedded right away when the couples are shown sitting around at a fancy restaurant, goofy and drunk, asking each other some disturbing questions (“Would you eat a pound of human flesh for 1 million dollars?”) that make for some really uncomfortable dinner conversation. And while Barbara is initially painted as a sensitive, motherly sweetheart; and Brooks a pessimistic, unloving jerk; their relationship dynamics become pretty mysterious when Moore switches off the Bambi role and shows some real nastiness.

Fast forward to Paris, 1959; their son Tony is now about 12 years old but Barbara and Brooks’ relationship doesn’t seem to be improving… However,  Tony and Barbara seem to be hitting it off. At first their mother-son relationship is really cute [Side note: I always find this kind of relationship, in which parents can have a mature relationship with their young child and can talk about real life issues (money, family problems, friendships etc.) really beautiful and touching to see onscreen and off. OK, 12 might be a little young but you know what I mean!] …but then that’s ruined pretty quickly. There is just something not right about the way she asks her son “Do you love me?”… Or the way they kiss. Okay, okay that’s enough! And SPOILER ALERT: it is one of those kinds of movies. Their relationship shown here, when he’s a young boy, foreshadows that.

Julianne Moore’s performance… Where do I begin? I love her, always have. Out of all the actresses out there today she is one near the very top of the list. Her performance in this is just another addition to a long list of mesmerizing roles from her. She goes from caring and gentle to nasty and scene-starting in the drop of a hat. Her acting is layered and outspoken; she’s confident and fearless in this more than I’ve seen from her in other roles.

As the movie goes on, the severely dark tone is emphasized when the graphic and uncomfortable moments become more and more common and tend to linger on screen for longer and longer. The movie has a hyper-stylized element to it’s unsettling scenes which make it thrilling and always a little bit scary to watch.

Once the third chapter hits, Tony is now probably around 19 years old and is portrayed by Eddie Redmayne (who’s also been dryly, almost sarcastically narrating the film on and off.) He grows up to be just as endearing and attractive as he is underdeveloped and childish; still surrounded by his mommy Barbara and carrying on his fastly growing dysfunctional relationship with her. Constant moving and growing up with entitled parents who hate each other didn’t seem to have a good effect on Tony.

As the years go by, Barbara seems to become more and more glamorous and put together while her temper tantrums and behavior get meaner and meaner. As beautiful as Moore is in this, the nasty character she plays always keeps her right at unlikable.

Once Tony becomes an adult, the movie’s mysteries are thrown out the window… And I won’t talk about the shocking scene that solidifies the fact that Barbara and Tony DEFINITELY don’t have a healthy relationship. When manic Barbara inevitably attempts suicide, Tony coldly explains that “taking care of mommy became (his) inheritance.” And from there it’s all downhill.

Ending on a dark, horribly unhappy note, Savage Grace leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But the dialogue and performances clearly get across the strong theme of jealousy the movie is all about. It’s a hard watch but a good one.

B+

Watched on: Hulu