Saturday, January 26, 2008

Savage Grace

2008 Sundance Film Festival

In 1972, socialite Barbara Daly Baekeland, former Hollywood model and wife of plastics heir Leo Baekland, was murdered in her London home in a well-publicized and shocking story that captured the public’s ever-morbid interest and fascination. The popular book, Savage Grace, was published in 1986, which was the basis for the screenplay and the movie. It’s the tragic tale of social climber who married above her class (Julianne Moore), an insensitive and unloving husband (Stephen Dillane), too much money that they didn’t have to work for and the poor boy who was unfortunate enough to have been born into their family (Eddy Redmayne, who was also in The Yellow Handkerchief, at Sundance this year).

Watching this movie is a painful experience. One reason is that it’s a terrible film. The other is that this is a wretchedly awful family. And from my scant research, it appears that screenwriter Howard Rodman softened the screenplay from the book and reality to make the each of the main characters a little more palatable. The only thing of redeeming value is Julianne Moore’s performance, although it pained me to see her in the role.

If you’re looking for something slow, meandering and depressing that still manages to be graphic, perverse and dehumanizing, look no farther than Savage Grace.

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