Tender Mercies (Beresford, 1983)

This review contains spoilers.

Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford, 1983)

Considering how much actually happens in this film, the fact that it feels so minimalistic is truly astounding. Robert Duvall’s Mac Sledge meets a woman, gets married, reconnects with the daughter from his first marriage (and later finds out she’s been killed in an accident), and revitalizes his career as a country singer along the way. The film flies by, feeling more like snapshots of the man’s life than anything. But Beresford spends time on the little things – Duvall staring at the dusk skyline behind his house, his wife and stepson walking through the field discussing science projects, and various other poetic, quiet moments. And there’s moments when Duvall’s character briefly wears his heart on his sleeve and we learn more about him and his past through a quiet song or short ramblings than we do at any other time. It’s honest and poignant. Small-town drama is one of my favorites, and this is no different.  9.5/10

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