Complete A-Z list

Savage Grace


Stars: Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Dancy, Unax Ugalde, Anne Reid, Elena Anaya

Director: Tom Kalin

You could hardly believe such dysfunctional people as these existed, were it not for the fact that this thoroughly depressing film is based on a real-life cause-celebre.

But a lack of backstory and character underpinnings to these social butterflies often leads to a dislocation of one's interest and even at times boredom.

Barbara (Moore), a grade-A bitch, has married Brooks (Dillane), heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune, but loses no opportunity to humiliate her husband at the drop of a Martini. He is so equally dislikeable and disagreeable that you wonder what attracted these people to each other in the first place - although, in Barbara's case, money was probably sufficient.

What sex they have is, like their relationship, violent and unpleasant. But there is a son, Tony (Redmayne), the apple of his mother's eye, who grows into a louche youth with a liking for both boys and girls, as well as cannabis. Like his parents, Tony has no need to earn a living, but becomes increasingly detached from life after Brooks leaves Barbara for his Spanish girlfriend (Anaya).

Tony drifts into threesomes with his mother and her bisexual lover (Dancy), although his eventual descent to madness comes rather abruptly, at least in the film. These are not easy people to be with, and performances reflect the characters' veneers of cold culture, even if animal instincts are never far from the surface. The 15 certificate is extremely generous. What does a movie have to do these days to earn an 18?

David Quinlan

Spain/France/USA 2007. UK Distributor: Revolver. Colour by Kodak.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 07 Jul 2008