Savage Grace: Holy Smokes

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They must’ve known this story did not need to unfold cinematically from the moment they started writing the second act. Starring Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, and Hugh Dancy, this film could’ve been shot for a quarter of the price and turned into a Showtime “Red Shoe Diary” episode.

This dramatization of the Barbara Baekland murder in 1972 features Moore as Barbara, a charming cultured American socialite who is more intrigued by entertaining her social circle than being a caring mother or wife. Her husband Brooks (played by a stoic always fleeting Stephen Dillane) leaves her for their son Tony’s ( Redmayne) prospective girlfriend. Girlfriend theft aside, Tony doesn’t care as it’s revealed that he is gay and only wants acceptance and love from a father who can’t get away fast enough.

*Spoiler Alert*

Barbara hires Sam (Dancy) a gay escort, to act as her perpetual dinner date, easing her back into the social circle that gawk and gossip about her divorce. Sam winds up screwing Barbara, then Tony screws Sam. Then 2 scenes pass and they wind up having a threesome. Yes, she sleeps with her son. Never go full Oedipus.

Sam gets freaked out and leaves. A couple scenes later, Barbara walks into the living room where Tony is hanging out, proceeds to engage him in chitty chat, during which she seduces, straddles and totally does it with him. A scene-and-a-half later, he starts bitching about some dog collar he can’t find, then discovers it in the kitchen. Realizing Barbara hid it, he stabs her, calls the cops, orders Chinese food, grubs and then holds the dead body until the cops come.

Then the movie ends.

The title cards are used to let you know what happened to Tony afterward, and I’m left sitting on my couch with my jaw on the floor. What was that? The first 45 minutes was all soft porny, followed by 30 minutes of incest and capped off by matricide. I didn’t care about  Tony. I cared about Moore for the first 15 minutes but then she started to become a cartoon. I tried to figure it out,  to see where it was going, but it could be summed up as a true story that probably reads a lot better than it played out on the big screen. You want a good nasty shock, watch “Oldboy.” But if you want to feel a little bit ashamed of yourself? Then give Savage Grace a try.

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