Archives / 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Savage Grace

Director: Tom Kalin

Screenwriters: Howard Rodman

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Description

In his long-awaited follow-up to 1992’s Swoon, Tom Kalin returns to a true crime story; this time it’s a society murder that rattled the world on both sides of the Atlantic. Based on the book by Natalie Robins and Steven M.L. Aronson, Savage Grace tells the astonishing story of Barbara Daly (Julianne Moore), a former actress who married above her class to become the wife of Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane), heir to a plastics fortune. Alluring and charismatic, yet an unabashed social climber, Barbara becomes an embarrassment to her well-bred husband. The Baekelands crisscross the globe from New York to Paris to Cadaques to London, savagely grasping for the good life. The birth of their only child, Tony, pushes their already-rocky marriage over the cliff. Brooks looks upon Tony, who is homosexual, with litttle more than disdain. The groundwork for tragedy is laid as Barbara, scorned by her husband, does everything in her power to own her son.

Filmmaker Kalin and screenwriter Howard Rodman wisely avoid melodrama despite a story line that would make Tennessee Williams proud. Buoyed by its stunning European locations and propelled by a ferociously daring performance by Moore, Savage Grace crescendoes to a shocking climax that is both horrifying and inevitable.

— David Courier

Screening Details

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