Savannah (2013) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
11 Reviews
Sort by:
Sketchy, but very good
bob-rutzel-12 October 2013
This is based upon a true story.

Ward Allen (Jim Caviezel) gives up the privileged life on a plantation in Savannah, GA to live free on the river so he can hunt ducks.

We start off in 1954 where Christmas Moultrie (Chiwetel Ejiofor) - the last of the free slaves from the Moultrie plantation - tells of his relationship with Ward Allen decades before. Then we go to 1918 and see Ward Allen.

We have an all-star cast with Hal Holbrook as Judge Harden; Sam Shepard as Mr. Stubbs who is the father of Lucy (Jaimie Alexander), who eventually marries Ward Allen; and Bradley Whitford as Jack Cay, a lawyer, who is the listener - and eventual writer of this story - to Christmas and his stories of Ward Allen.

I suppose we are all wondering what there was about Ward Allen to have a movie made of his life so-to -speak and further…… why would he give up a life of privilege to roam the woods and the river just to hunt and shoot ducks? We must listen and believe, as true, the stories Christmas tells about his friend. And, you must come to know that this friendship was pure gold.

However, this is quite sketchy. We have 3-stories and any one of which could have carried this movie, but it was decided to provide a little something of all three. It is difficult to incorporate everything especially when all three stories have a lot to say. We see Ward's relationship with his wife and this almost turned into a love story, but later that was abandoned; then we see his battles with new government rules and regulations regarding his disregarding them that got him to the courts many times (he didn't believe in quotas for the number of ducks killed or the shooting of a certain type of "protected" duck); then we have the relationship with Christmas and this is where the story should have been centered. It is with this angle that a great legend could have materialized. But, we get only bits and pieces here. Bummer.

It was decided to tell all three stories, sketchy as they might be, because……..well, Ward Allen was "a hell of a man's man" and we do get this perspective from the movie. Maybe that was the point of all this.

The acting all around is very good. The best and lighter moments in the movie involve Ward Allen in court with Judge Harden who has a propensity to overlook Allen's transgressions as we can clearly see that Judge Harden is most impressed with Ward Allen, who by the way was Oxford educated and spouted Shakespeare often. Throughout there are good lines that provide some chuckles.

The cinematography is outstanding regarding the Savannah River background. The ending is somewhat confusing because the movie cannot tell us what really happened to Ward Allen or his wife after his wife was sent to a rest home.

But, to answer the question why abandon the good life for a life of hunting ducks on the Savannah River in Ward Allen's words: The river belongs to us and we to it. It was the only place he felt really free and that was most important to him. (7/10)

Violence: No. Sex: Not really, we see more of a make-out session with his wife. Nudity: No. Language: No.
15 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great scenery, fantastic camera work and a family friendly script!
fdo-316-2369725 August 2013
Savannah does attempt to tell the story of the friendship of two men, one returning from overseas to choose a life close to nature and his friend from childhood a freed slave and how a changing climate, culture, and society can make certain types of people and professions obsolete through no fault of their own.

It has an impressive cast with Jim Caviezel as Ward Allen and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Christmas Moultrie, together with Sam Shepard, Hal Holbrook and Jack McBrayer playing less important roles. In the center of all action is the duo of Ward Allen and Christmas Moultrie played by Jim Caviezel and Chiwetel Ejiofor. This important friendship should had have more room, more dialog. The relationship of Ward Allen with Lucy Stubbs played by Jaimie Alexander is more of a fictional drop-in and distracted from the rest of the storyline which could have disclosed more of Ward's intellectual background, the relationship with his father and his overseas upbringing.

Overall, great scenery, fantastic camera work and for those who know the book a very well written family friendly script in the European style of storytelling. Not Hollywood cinema, nothing flashy or fast paced. Enjoy the LowCountry landscape and a great sound track.
17 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Wade in the Water
David Ferguson23 August 2013
Greetings again from the darkness. Beginning with "Based on a True Story", the movie takes us on a bumpy ride known as the life and times of Ward Allen, a silver-tongued duck hunter with a free spirit like few others. Director Annette Haywood-Carter utilizes Jack Cay Jr's "Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter" as her source material, and the marsh lands of Savannah make for a beautiful setting.

Jim Caviezel dives into the role of Ward Allen and it's initially quite startling to see him play such a loquacious character … we are so accustomed to his normally quiet and stoic nature. Caviezel seems to revel in the courtroom scenes where he recites Shakespeare and charms the judge (Hal Holbrook) and gallery. Flip a switch and the next scene will have Allen exchanging familiar glances and verbal jousts with his duck hunting buddy Christmas (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a freed slave who is the perfect companion for Allen.

Evidently the real Mr. Allen was smart and engaging, but drank too much and constantly pushed the limits of legal hunting. His loyal dog, Rock, follows him everywhere and seems to anticipate his every need. This odd life takes a turn towards normalcy as Allen falls for a beautiful socialite played by Jaime Alexander. The two hit it off and get married, against the wishes of her father played by the great Sam Shepard. Unfortunately, it's at this point that the movie gets convoluted and loses focus, trying to be too many things at once.

Caviezel and Ejiofor have a really nice screen presence together, but the interjections of home life between Caviezel and Alexander just stomp out any flow to the story telling. The attempts to make Mr. Allen a legendary, larger-than-life figure fall short because of the clunky script structure. The bookend with Christmas telling the stories to both a young and adult Jack Cay (Bradley Whitford) just beg for continued focus on the bond between kindred spirits Allen and Christmas. The enigmatic Ward Allen was clearly an interesting man and I look forward to reading Cay's book … it's just disappointing that the script was not sharpened prior to filming. It should be noted that there are a few tremendous songs throughout, including two very different versions of "Wade in the Water".
15 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A colorful character and great friendship from the Old South
SimonJack12 September 2014
"Savannah" is an entertaining film of fiction that is based partly on a book about a somewhat legendary character from the turn of the 20th century in Savannah, GA, and his lifelong friendship with a freed Black slave. Other reviewers have noted the problems with the shaky plot and script. But this film is very entertaining and a fun watch fit for the whole family.

Two things that stand out in this film are worthy of praise. First is the scenery and cinematography along the marshes and backwaters of the Savannah River. Second is the acting. The entire cast gave top performances; but like other reviewers, I especially enjoyed Jim Caviezel's portrayal of the lead character, Ward Allen. If the real educated and sophisticated yet down-home Ward Allen was half as vibrant, witty and disarming as the character played by Caviezel, he was a most colorful character indeed.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This film may confuse Non-Southerners, but makes sense to me
james-j-tatum6 February 2015
The story of Ward Allen is not unknown to hunters. THe relationship he shared with freedman Christmas Moultrie seems to confound and confuse people like Roger Ebert. He cannot see how a White man "of the manor born" could befriend a Black man in those times, and therefore assumes that only Southerners would like this film.

This is my first review on IMDb. I want people to know that this film is far more than worth a watch. The complexities of a new world and a new way of life in post Civil War America, more specifically Savannah, are captured honestly here. THere is no scenery chewing, or unnecessary verbosity in the film. The marrow of the film is the story of friendship, family, loss, and inevitable change. THis film succeeds in making a complicated era of American history a simpler issue, one of laws, man, and the spirit of going against the standard of a mans time and station.

I am very happy that I was able to watch this, and I hope that it gets more respect from humble movie goers like myself who are willing to give it a fair shake, and ignore the Roger Ebert's of the world.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Beautifully lyrical film, about a different drummer man, played by the wonderful Jim Caviezel, very romantic in parts
Amy Adler15 December 2014
Ward Allen (Jim Caviezel) likes what he likes. Born into a family of wealth in Savannah Georgia at the turn of the twentieth century, he nevertheless does not become a businessman. Instead, he likes to be on the marshes near the ocean, hunting duck for the fine restaurants of Savannah. With him is his constant companion and partner, Christmas (Chiwetel Efiolor), a former slave. This alone is a cause of gossip at a time when whiles and African Americans didn't socialize in the South. but, in truth, Ward just loves the "wild places" over sitting in an office somewhere. Very handsome, he catches the eye of a lovely woman, Lucy Stubbs (Jamie Alexander) who her stuffy father (Sam Shepherd) has promised to another man. Yet, Lucy is also a lady who walks to a different beat. She shuns her father's choice and pursues Ward. Soon, they are married and living in Ward's opulent mansion. Still, his married state doesn't change Ward, who continues to hunt and get roaring drunk at the local bars, where he tells long stories. From time to time, Ward is also hauled before a judge (Hal Holbrook) for charges of hunting in forbidden waterways. Yet, Ward always gets off easy, for the judge likes him and his strong arguments for his chosen profession. Naturally, this creates some conflict for Lucy, especially when she discovers she is expecting a baby. Will Ward ever change? This beautifully lyrical movie, an homage to the loveliness of Savannah and its surroundings, will charm a certain type of movie fan. Its quiet, unusual story is paired with sumptuous scenery for a visually stunning experience. Also, Caviezel is one attractive and talented man, an actor who tops my list of "men who can make the heart pound". Alexander, Holbrook, Shepherd, Efiolor and all of the supporting cast is very fine, also. Do you consider yourself drawn to artistic, independent flicks? Take a trip to this Savannah soon.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A laid-back movie
mariasquare25 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Let me tell you one thing. Watching this movie will not be a waste of your time. This movie explores the friendship between a white man and a black man. It's a beautifully made movie with gorgeous settings, humorous lines(at times), splendid acting and overall a great theme. Although I do feel that the relationship between Ward and Lucy gets in the way of the friendship between Ward and Christmas. I think they should've focused on that friendship from A to Z because it feels as though the movie is too crowded. Not much development or exploration between Ward and Christmas. The relationship between Ward and Lucy on the other hand, I find it very cliché. The good girl falls for the bad guy. They get married, she becomes pregnant and something dramatic happens along the way.

But overall, i enjoyed watching this movie. I'm sure you won't regret watching it. You won't be complaining and cursing about wasting your 1.5 hours.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Beautiful, but flawed
Sjhm24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to LOVE this film. Stunning locations, a fascinating portrait of a way of life that has now passed, the relationship between two men which at the time should have been impossible, wealthy blue-blood Ward Allen and his friend and river guide, Christmas Moultrie.

The central story, of Ward and Christmas, is a thing of beauty. Somewhere inside Jim Caviezel, whose career to date has been filled with almost eerily beautiful dramatic performances, there beats the soul of a true comedian. In Ward Allen, a larger than life and somewhat intemperate man with a consuming passion for the outdoor life, Caviezel gets the chance to let out the goofier side of his personality. He plays Ward with a verve and real comedic timing, but with a sensitivity and subtlety which makes this somewhat bombastic character truly sympathetic. Chiwetel Ejifor is superb as Christmas, the man can convey a range of emotions in just one look. Their relationship is subtle, and perfect.

The flaw lies in that the script itself doesn't seem to have a real time frame or any particularly coherent idea of exactly what it is trying to say. Time expands and contracts, and a sense of unreality sets in. There are also a couple of times when the camera loses focus, clearly unintentionally. It's only for a couple of seconds, but it does have the annoying effect of pulling you out of the story.

If you focus on the performances and the glorious scenery, this is a truly wonderful film, and a unique insight into a way of life long past. The cast are sublime, and this is very well worth seeing.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Romanticism is still alive in movies
John Raymond Peterson25 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Who was Ward Allen? That was a question I asked myself, reading the movie's cast and other credits. Based on a true story, uh! Oh well, it's worth a shot; I'll watch it. I did, and despite the script shortcomings, something I was easily able to get over, I discovered an interesting character and a story that reminded me why I enjoy movies with romanticism, not to be confused with romance.

The perhaps foolishness of pure thoughts, idealism, that is common to most romantic life stories, fiction or non, as in this case here, makes for good viewing and feel good moments. Annette Haywood-Carter's 'Savannah' did evoke those feel good moments. The scenery, set in the Savannah River marshes was well utilized in the movie's cinematography; that alone was reason for me to watch as much as I could.

The cast which includes such compelling names as Chiwetel Ejiofor, of '12 Years a Slave' fame, Sam Shepard and Hal Holbrook are another reason to consider 'Savannah'. Bradley Whitford plays Jack Cay, father of author John Eugene Cay Jr. who wrote the novel on which the movie is based. The main character is played by Jim Caviezel, who in this movie plays a loquacious intriguing character, atypical of Caviezel's past roles, but one he acquits himself of flawlessly. If you like Shakespearean soliloquy arguments and pleas uttered by lawyers in court as well as in bars, drinking kind, not legal, you'll appreciate the script's contributions in that respect.

The secondary character of Christmas Moultrie, played by Ejifor, is as compelling as is the main one, but brings an altogether different element, that of a first generation freed slave, and complements well the rapport of the two friends. Tieing the Moultrie, Allen and Cay's stories all in one movie is where the script falls short; it may be too much to feature in one movie and so the novel's story and perspective may well not have been done justice. The more reason to read the novel, something I'm eager to do now. I've not said much about the relation of Lucy Stubbs, played by the beautiful Jaimie Alexander, and Ward Allen, but it is pivotal to the development of Allen's life story, hence the late mention here. I didn't think a longer review would have help convince you to see the movie. If you appreciate romanticism, such as the genre is, I recommend the movie.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A wonderful movie to escape to an oft' forgotten past time and setting!
Cameron277627 September 2014
Go back in time, a couple of decades after the civil war, to Savannah, GA, and meet a largely unknown character choosing to live against the flow of prevailing contemporary attitudes and social mores. Enjoy stunning cinema-photography, a host a familiar actors performing at their best, and sit back and enjoy what the best movies do----tell a wonderful story in a unique way. "Savannah" was truly an emotional journey through primarily the life of one man while also taking time for the viewer to invest in the lives of those whom our protagonist chooses to invite to share in his adventures and way of life. I enjoyed the flow of the movie, enjoying each change of perspective. I contend the director prevailed in accomplishing balance in moving our story along in every way.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
At the brink of modern age
bi-azh12 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is how I understood the film without having read the book. I don't give a summary,that has been done by the other reviewers here, and yes, my review will contain spoilers.

The drama is told about and around the character Ward Allen, a locally renown and remembered local sort of hero. But why was he important and what was his meaning for those who have known him and remember him?

It seems, that he had a way to impress his follow men by his stubborn way of living in a romantic past, that was slowly slipping away and was glorified when he was long gone. The important factor here is "time" because clearly the 1920ies were a turning point, after WW1 and the great war to come that was sweeping away social classes and ways of living not only in Europe but also in America. The beginning of modern times is obvious, there are coaches and horses in the streets but also automobiles. In one scene Ward and Christmas look from their boat to the rising of an industrial building at the horizon and Ward says that the birds are not flying over it.

The story reminded me very much of Ford Madoxx Fords "Parades End", set in the time of WW1. The hero of that story, who was also a creature of a time long gone, was defined as the last gentlemen, because of his unfaltering upkeeping of a moral codex no longer important in a changing society.(Watch Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC miniseries)

The hero of Savannah on the other hand is not so much a gentlemen but a free spirit, a man who doesn't like to be "tamed", not by his family and upbringing, not by his wife and not by the society around him. But he stands no chance,time goes on and everything changes, his lifestyle with living outdoors and sustaining himself by hunting is no longer possible, and industrialization is on the horizon. That is child is stillborn can be a symbol. He has to take this strike of fate and then another and so on until he sees no way of going on and kills himself.

All that is told in a slow and melancholic way with the help of a frame story in the present. The omnipresent birds and the water carry highly symbolic meaning as the flow of time.

Many critics say that the three story lines are not told good enough, one should have concentrated on the friendship between the former slave and white man, that was his friend. But I don't think that is what this film is about, that is only a sideline. From that missunderstanding there might come the critic of using too many clichées,as someone accused the film on the messageboard. But those "clichées" are not what is important here. Ward had the ability to express himself by writing - he was not a writer in the usual sense of the word. Because of his upbringing and education he had the possibility to describe his confusion and the problems he had with the change of the older way of living to the modern age. He couldn't accept it and stayed therefore as a symbolic figure for the turmoil of that age, that many might have felt.

As mentioned in the other reviews the pictures and the filming are excellent and the cast did a very great job, mostly Jim Caviezel who proved that he can also play extrovert characters. His use of his voice and movements are highly entertaining to watch. This is not a film for the big audience but it should have gained more attention. One thing I didn't like so much was the score. The main theme of the music was nice and kind of hypnotizing, but it was used too much, should have varied more.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews