|Directed by||Tamara Jenkins|
|Written by||Tamara Jenkins|
|Music by||Stephen Trask|
|Edited by||Brian A. Kates|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$10.6 million|
It had its world premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2007. It was released on November 28, 2007, by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It received critical acclaim. At the 80th Academy Awards, it earned two nominations: Best Actress (for Linney) and Best Original Screenplay (for Jenkins). At the 65th Golden Globe Awards, it was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (for Seymour Hoffman).
After drifting apart emotionally over the years, two single siblings — Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Wendy (Laura Linney), the younger of the two — band together to care for their estranged, elderly father, Lenny (Philip Bosco), who is rapidly slipping into dementia. Wendy and Jon first travel to Sun City, Arizona to attend the funeral of their father's girlfriend of 20 years. When they arrive, they are told that their father signed a non-marriage agreement and will not have rights to any of her property. They then move him to a nursing home in Buffalo, where Jon is a theater professor working on a book about Bertolt Brecht. Wendy, who is an aspiring, but unsuccessful, playwright, moves from New York City to help establish their father in Buffalo.
Neither of the siblings are close with Lenny. It is implied that he was a physically and emotionally abusive father when Jon and Wendy were growing up and they cut him out of their lives. They were also abandoned by their mother at a young age. Their dysfunctional family life appears to have left Wendy and Jon emotionally crippled and unable to sustain a relationship. She is sleeping with an unattainable married man 13 years her senior and Jon cannot commit to a Polish woman who must return to Kraków after her visa expires.
Their visits to the nursing home and their father's eventual death allow them to reevaluate their lives and to grow emotionally. In the end, Wendy has broken up with her married lover, but has adopted his dog, which he had planned to put down. She is also seen working on the production of her play about their terrible childhood, while Jon is leaving for a conference in Poland where it is suggested he may reconnect with the woman he had let go. The film closes with Wendy running with her lover's dog alive, running with the aid of a wheeled hip cast, suggesting a mode of flawed yet persevering life for both siblings.
The film received very favorable reviews from critics. As of October 14, 2012, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 89% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 113 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Thanks to a tender, funny script from director Tamara Jenkins, and fine performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, this film delivers a nuanced, beautifully three-dimensional look at the struggles and comforts of family bonds." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 85 out of 100, based on 35 reviews.
These actors are unimprovable as, somehow, they find a certain decency under the pressure of their grinding familial chore, a reason to hope that slightly better days may be ahead for them once their duty has been done. Writer-director Tamara Jenkins is less interested in heroically inspiring us than she is in showing us the values to be found in the more modest forms of dutifulness.
The film appeared on many critics' top 10 lists of the best films of 2007.
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