They must’ve known this story did not need to unfold cinematically from the moment they started adapting 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 saucy 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.
Barbara hires Sam (Dancy) a gay escort, to act as Barbara’s perpetual dinner date, easing her back into the social circle that gawk and gossip about Barbara’s 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. Pulling the old Oedipus card, nice.
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. 1 scene and a half later he starts bitching about some dog collar he can’t find, he finds it in the kitchen, realizing she 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 then capped off by matricide. I didn’t care about Tony because Redmayne played him unneccessairly numb and snarky. 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”, wanna feel a little bit ashamed of yourself? Then by all means, Savage Grace is for you.
Now I will be the first to admit that I have a major dvd buying compulsion. I own hundreds of dvds and easily half of those I’ve never seen and a better portion of those are still in their original packaging. Back in the early 2000’s toward the end of Blockbuster’s reign, I perused their section of previously viewed dvd’s on a weekly basis. I’d spend $25 bucks every Friday and leave with a little white yellow and blue bag filled with upwards of 5 used but otherwise in good condition movies. Of those 5, I would watch one and throw the rest into my dvd bucket in the corner of my room.
The times they changed and so did my responsibilities so like any good 26 year old with rent to pay, I purchased my very own Netflix subscription. For $13.99 a month I can watch as many movies as I want but only 2 at a time. Only problem is the returning of said movies. I find it to be as difficult as killing a newborn kitten to physically remember to return these movies. I manage to send back my movies once a month on average, meaning that I am spending $14 bucks a month to rent 2 movies. My name is Desiree and I am a sloth.
Then on a day like today, after practically taking a lynching at the office, I get home with some Chinese takeout and decide that I want to be entertained cinematically. I saunter over to my makeshift library and I select a lesser known David Duchovny directed movie entitled ” The House of D”.
The cover reflects a few name brand stars with credible work, Robin Williams, Tea Leoni, David Duchovny, and Anton Yelchin and that’s pretty mucha recipe for a good hour and a half of entertainment. I throw the disc into my electric pink dvd player and snuggle into my Transformer blanket as the credits begin to roll.
The movie is of the coming of age variety. Kid has a bad childhood, a few horrible events follow him into adulthood and he must revisit his painful past if he wants a brighter future. I sobbed like a bitch for maybe 45 minutes of this heart wrenching film. It played like a shocking prediction. I was too shocked to see this obvious about to occur. Robin Williams was great as “Papass” a mentally challenged man. Actors playing the ubiquitous mental retardation role for the Oscar nod should be smited. Duchovny (director, actor) was stoic and snarky per usual, even Tea Leoni was good as the single mom with the world on her shoulders. However, Mr. Anton Yelchin stole the movie and a tiny portion of my perv heart. He put a realness, warmth and empathy into a run of the mill movie. Erykah Badu was amazing and necessary, providing the movie’s much needed edge factor. I fully recommend this movie if you want to drop a few tears or if you want to join the Anton Yelchin train. Not a bad ride. Wow I employed a lot of critique cliches in this post. How gauche.