Savage Grace

Money, madness, incest and murder! Just the recipe for a twisted mesmerizer of a movie, if it doesn't creep you out. It's the true story of Barbara Daly (Julianne Moore), a social climber who marries Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane), the heir to a plastics empire, and proceeds to, well, just watch and hold your jaw up with both hands. Director Tom Kalin (Swoon) is a huge talent, and working from a script that Howard Rodman carved out of a book by Natalie Robins and Steven M.L. Aronson, he uses dark humor and artful style to pull you into a tale of the rich abusing their privileges. Barbara dotes on her gay son, Tony (the excellent Eddie Redmayne), with boundary-shattering intensity. From Tony's birth in 1946 to Barbara's murder in 1972, Savage Grace travels the world with aother and son only Tennessee Williams could love. Moore delivers a toure de force, shocking when Barbara straddles her son and offers to suck him off when he can't come and savagely moving in her haunting delineation of Barbara's journey from loneliness to mania. Kalin's toxic baby exerts perverse fascination.

From The Archives Issue 121: November 9, 1972