Maybe you shouldn't see Savage Grace. If you must see it, see it alone. When a film includes such jarring scenes of incest and tragedy as Tom Kalin's does, it is hard to focus objectively on the art. The content of Savage Grace is so increasingly awful, so troubling, so voyeuristic and wrong, that it practically ventures beyond normative analysis. I truly can't begin to wrap my head around it.
The difficulties begin with the narrative. Savage Grace does not adhere to the classic formula of drama. There is no real story being told. We flutter occasionally onto the virtual windowsill of the Baekeland family to witness their decadent, amoral lifestyle. Each time we visit, time has passed and a new exclusive, exotic location has been chosen for the family to land and spread their sad, disfigured wings.
The Baekland's consist of father, Brooks (aptly stuffy and cold Stephen Dillane), mother, Barbara (Julianne Moore), and Tony (played as a young man by Eddie Redmayne). Stoic, unbearably repressed Brooks is heir to an immense fortune as his grandfather invented plastic. The family's wealth and financial freedom is so all encompassing that truly nothing matters. And if Savage Grace is evocative of anything it is the dangers of utter unaccountability. As Ma$e and Puffy said: More money more problems.
What begins as a series of acerbic vignettes, subtly giving the audience insight into the underlying dysfunctions of the Baeklands, eventually becomes a drawn out descent into twisted depravities. Other than further understanding characters that are miserable and loathsome, it is difficult to comprehend the value of Kalin's film. Kalin is a very brave and honest filmmaker (and plenty astute), but his subject matter argues that some stories need not be told.
Kalin's talent aside, Savage Grace is a showcase for Ms. Moore, who takes bravery, honesty, and purity of performance to a whole new level.
Judaism teaches that one must mold themselves based on individual inclinations. For example, one who is driven to shed blood should become a surgeon or a butcher, not a killer. Julianne Moore, I am convinced could have been a porn star (or worse) if she were not careful. Never has there been a mainstream actress more prone to raw, untamed, unselfconscious sexuality. She is the female equivalent of Michael Douglas. Both are very fine, passionate actors