Savage Grace

Director: Tom Kalin
Screenwriters: Howard Rodman

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


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

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]