Based on real events in the life of socialite Barbara Daly Baekeland, “Savage Grace,” opening on May 30, borrows something from just about every Greek tragedy ever written, including its grisly conclusion.
"Savage Grace" is a lurid tale of wealth, incest, homosexuality and murder, so naturally it created quite a bit of buzz at its premiere screenings during the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals.
You can watch four scenes from the movie on YouTube. These aren’t promotional trailers, but four individual scenes as they will likely appear in the film. Some of the language here is raw: although the film hasn’t yet been rated, it will likely get an R or NC-17.
Reviews from the film festival screenings have been sharply divided into the “loved it” versus “hated it” camps, largely on the basis of the subject matter and likeability of the characters. GreenCine, a film blog that offers a free, daily e-mail subscription, has compiled many of the reviews into two separate articles, one from each festival screening. The link below takes you to reviews from Sundance, along with links to an interview with one of the film’s players, or background information about the real story. Scroll to the bottom for a link to the Cannes reviews and more links and updates.
Julianne Moore, a tremendously talented actress known for her portrayals of flawed, vulnerable women, has been Oscar-nominated for her roles in “Boogie Nights,” “The Hours,” “The End of the Affair” and “Far From Heaven.” She’s also done time in special effects-laden films such as “Jurassic Park: The Lost World” and played gun-toting heroic leads (“Hannibal”). Oddly enough, those blockbuster movies are the ones that made Moore a household name. But rabid Julianne Moore fans—and they are legion—are waiting for another chance to see her in a role where she can really strut her stuff.
The screenplay, adapted from the book “Savage Grace,” by Natalie Robins and Steven M. L. Aronson, takes only five scenes from the original source material and uses them to illustrate the entire twisted, Oedipal relationship. Read the book for a more comprehensive understanding of the story. Published in 1985, The New York Times called it “a fascinating, though macabre, exploration of the decadence of wealthy people without purpose.” The original book review in The New York Times is available online.
Tom Kalin, the director of “Savage Grace,” is best known as the writer and director of the 1992 film-festival sensation, “Swoon.” Swoon, a stylized re-imagining of the notorious1924 murder by Leopold and Loeb, and “Savage Grace” are both lurid true-crime dramas that show Kalin’s obvious affinity for sensationalistic subject matter. “I've had a long, unhealthy relationship with reading true-crime books for many years … I love things like Truman Capote's “In Cold Blood.” In the end, I find them [full of] very flawed, troubling characters who are really compelling.” Read the full interview in The Reeler.
Screenwriter Howard Rodman said of his experience writing “Savage Grace”: “It was a world of its own but it was really dark. It's noir in a way. And in a funny way, noir can be easy; it's a formula. But this was so tough that I didn't know if I could do it emotionally.” There is an interesting MP3 interview by Manohla Dargis, film critic for The New York Times, with Rodman at the Cannes film festival, where they discuss in detail the genesis of the film.
Also starring in “Savage Grace” is actor Eddie Redmayne, who plays Anthony Baekeland. Redmayne, an English actor who went to school with Prince William, is relatively new to the film scene, but in a short time he’s been in a string of high-profile movies, including The Other Boleyn Girl (Book) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (DVD).