Release dateMay 18, 2007 (2007-05-18) (Cannes Film Festival)May 28, 2008 (2008-05-28) (United States, limited release) Based onSavage Grace by Natalie Robins and Steven M.L. Aronson WriterHoward A. Rodman (screenplay), Natalie Robins (book), Steven M.L. Aronson (book) Initial releaseSeptember 20, 2007 (Singapore) Story byNatalie Robins, Steven M.L. Aronson CastJulianne Moore (Barbara Baekeland), Stephen Dillane (Brooks Baekeland), Eddie Redmayne (Tony Baekeland), Elena Anaya (Blanca), Hugh Dancy (Sam Green), Anne Reid (Nini Daly) Similar moviesJamon Jamon, Zandalee, Fish Tank, Heavenly Creatures, Craving Desire, The Hunting Party TaglineTruth is more shocking than fiction.
The film is based on the true story of Barbara Daly Baekeland (Moore), her husband Brooks Baekeland (Dillane), heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune, and their only child Antony (Redmayne), who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The story begins with Antony's birth and follows the family to the time of his arrest for the murder of his mother.
Critics gave the film mixed reviews. The review aggregatorRotten Tomatoes reported that 38 percent of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 89 reviews — with the consensus that "though visually compelling, the lamentable characters in Savage Grace make for difficult viewing." Metacritic, another review aggregator, reported the film had an average score of 51 out of 100, based on 28 reviews.
Peter Bradshaw writing in The Guardian gave the film four out of five stars, describing it as "a gripping, coldly brilliant and tremendously acted movie."
After the film opened, Baekeland's former lover, Samuel Adams Green (played by Dancy in the film), wrote an article pointing out that elements in the film were factually inaccurate. Referring to the ménage à trois scene of Barbara, Antony, and Sam having sex, he wrote:
It is true that almost 40 years ago I did have an affair with Barbara, but I certainly never slept with her son...Nor am I bisexual. ... She started telling people she had had an incestuous relationship with her son as a way of "curing" him of homosexuality... But I don't believe she had sex with Tony. I think she simply enjoyed shocking people.
Green then took legal action against the film makers, which was still unresolved at the time of his death.