Reel Caregiving: Glimpses of Caregiving – Savages

 

 

Movie Review Courtesy: Neha Hegde

After drifting apart emotionally over the years, two single siblings Jon and Wendy come together to care for their estranged, elderly father, Lenny (Philip Bosco), who is rapidly slipping into dementia. Wendy and Jon first travel to Sun City, Arizona to attend the funeral of their father’s girlfriend of 20 years. When they arrive, they are told that their father signed a non-marriage agreement and will not have rights to any of her property. They then move him to a nursing home in Buffalo, where Jon is a theatre professor working on a book about Bertolt Brecht. Wendy, who is an aspiring, but unsuccessful, playwright, moves from New York City to help establish their father in Buffalo.

 

#Impact of Caregiving on Jon and Wendy

Neither of the siblings are close to Lenny. It is implied that he was a physically and emotionally abusive father when Jon and Wendy were growing up and they cut him out of their lives. They were also abandoned by their mother at a young age. Their dysfunctional family life appears to have left Wendy and Jon emotionally crippled and unable to sustain a relationship. She is sleeping with an unattainable married man 13 years her senior and Jon cannot commit to a Polish woman who must return to Kraków after her visa expires.

Their visits to the nursing home and their father’s eventual death allow them to reevaluate their lives and to grow emotionally. In the end, Wendy has broken up with her married lover but has adopted his dog, which he had planned to put down. She is also seen working on the production of her play about their terrible childhood, while Jon is leaving for a conference in Poland where it is suggested he may reconnect with the woman he had let go.

Jon and Wendy have different opinions on what type of care is best for their father, although they have to make united decisions. Caring for and reconnecting with Lenny as well as making those important caregiving decisions in this end stage of his life take their toll on Jon and Wendy, although both siblings have to confront the goings-on in their own sad lives in the process.

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