Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Savage Grace is content to glide along, and while its key performances are intelligent, none of the writing activates these real-life characters fully.
Julianne Moore proves game for anything in this pitch-black true-crime reconstruction, where she stars as mercurial socialite Barbara Baekeland, wife of the taciturn heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune (virtuoso Stephen Dillane).
Though the film looks elegant, with deceptively simple interiors creating an impression of great wealth, it feels remote. We're impressed by the work the actors are doing, yet the characters don't hold our interest.
When in the presence of a woman like Barbara Baekeland -- and an actress like Moore -- lesser souls are doomed to wither.
Savage Grace contemplates passion without sampling it, though, and the film quickly becomes as remote as a magazine spread.
Christian Science Monitor:
Given its subject matter, it's oddly vacuous -- it rarely takes hold emotionally even when its people hit bottom with a resounding thud.
Globe and Mail:
Though the characters may be repellent, the film permits you to feel sympathy.
While the Baekelands would be flattered to rank with Clytemnestra and Oedipus, they and the film are as shallow as martinis
Howard Rodman's fine-tuned script and terrific acting across the board (Hugh Dancy is marvelous as a fashionable, well-manicured monster) makes Savage Grace a pleasure -- albeit a ghastly one -- to watch.
New York Post:
The movie is based on a true story, but for all its outre set pieces it never rises above the level of pretentious trash.
New York Observer:
Savage Grace is a film strictly for avant-garde festivals, at which even minimal exposition is at a premium.
New York Observer:
Mother-son incest, adultery, full-frontal nudity, murder and suicide may not lure summer ostriches hellbent on burying their brains in entertainments as forgettable as Chinese menus, but what a haunting experience they'll miss.
Living these lives, for these people, must have been sad and tedious, and so, inevitably, is their story, and it must be said, the film about it.
Walter V. Addiego,
San Francisco Chronicle:
It's a horror story, all right, but the reason for telling it remains unclear, and it seems like a waste of Kalin's evident talent.
While the pace occasionally flags and there are times when we wonder where Kalin is leading us, he maintains a pervasive sense of dread and unease throughout that makes the chilling climax seem both shocking and inevitable.
A crushingly unsuccessful glimpse into the lives of the rich, peripatetic heirs of the Bakelite plastics fortune.
The lurid plot, based on a very true story, isn't the problem here...stilted dialogue), and not nearly enough coaxing Moore out of her habit of clenching her face at the camera.
A lip-smacking episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Depraved, designed more for train-wreck gawkery than psychological illumination.