Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review: Tender Mercies (1983)

This was a very good movie (thanks again for the link), which was thought-provoking, moving and very subtle. Actually I'm very surprised that it received the Oscar attention it certainly deserved.
It's about Mac Sledge, a heavy boozer ex-country singer (Robert Duvall) who meets a young widow (Tess Harper), who runs a motel and a gas station. He asks for a job at her, she agrees and very soon they end up being married. But the desire to return to singing still lives in Mac.
The screenplay by Horton Foote is flawless, I've always loved his works such as To Kill a Mockingbird and A Trip to Bountiful and this writing is not an exception. It avoids sentimental or over-the-top situations, it's subtle and yet very emotional and moving. So Oscar deserved.
The same thing applies to the performances: Tess Harper as Rosa Lee is exceptional. She creates a kind-hearted and simple woman, who gives a meaning to Mac's life, who's his comfort and wife. I think her acting was nomination-worthy.
Everyone is very good, but still: this is Robert Duvall's movie. He's so good, in fact this is one of the most inexplainable decisions made by the Academy: he's so subtle, he has no, I mean NO so-called "Oscar moments", the character is not very baity either, but he manages to capture the pain of this person so well, that it's thrilling. He received most of the awards that year and the coveted Academy Award very well-deservedly, but I'm still shocked, because this is not the kind of performance that they go for. But this proves that the Academy is not only political and give awards only to biopics, but sometimes the very best performance is able to win.
I nearly forgot to praise the excellent direction of Bruce Beresford. This guy knows something, because he makes such beautiful movies like this or Driving Miss Daisy. These films both prove that not only hard-hitting, tough dramas can break your heart and make you think and that small films can have a huge impact on you.
So to sum up: exceptional work deserving of the Best Picture nomination.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Bruce Beresford); Best Actor (Robert Duvall, WON); Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (WON); Best Original Song (WON)
My wins: Best Actor YAY and Screenplay