Tenderness (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/06/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Watchable drama-slash-thriller, thanks to strong performances from John Foster and Sophie Traub but it fails to engage on an emotional level and is ultimately undone by an annoying final act.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Polson and based on a novel by Robert Cormier, Tenderness stars Russell Crowe as semi-retired Detective Cristofuoro, who's convinced that recently released teen murderer Eric Poole (Jon Foster) will kill again. Cristofuoro's theory is that Eric killed his parents in order to stop them from shopping him to the police over a third murder that the police couldn't connect him to, so he starts following him around.

However, the story is actually about damaged teenager Lori (Sophie Traub), who's obsessed with Eric and stows away in his car when he sneaks away from his aunt (Laura Dern) and drives off to meet an attractive teenager (Alexis Dziena) who sneaked him a note in prison. Eric and Lori gradually bond over their damaged pasts, but is he really the psychopathic killer Cristofuoro thinks he is? And does Lori care either way?

The Good
This is a strange film in many ways, and not all of them bad. For all his top billing and star power, Crowe's barely in the film as we spend most of the time with Lori and Eric. Traub is excellent as the quirky, damaged and unpredictable teenager who might actually be a little bit nuts, while Foster is equally good as someone who's desperately trying to put his past behind him but still wrestling with inner demons.

The Bad
However, the plot goes horribly off the rails in the final act. You suspect for a long time that sexy Maria (Alexis Dziena) might all be in Eric's head, but when the actual twist about her character comes it stops the film in its tracks with its sheer stupidity. Similarly, though we've come to care about Lori by the end of the film, we're not given enough information to justify her final actions, so her fate is stripped of its emotional impact (presumably this is something that was lost in translation from the novel).

Worth seeing?
Tenderness is just about watchable thanks to strong performances by Traub and Foster, but you might feel emotionally short-changed by the ending.

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Content updated: 23/09/2018 12:49

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