Posted by: greercn | July 8, 2010

Tenderness

A movie buddy I have great respect for said I should see this, when I wondered whether Russell Crowe was losing his special power of acting. It came out in 2009, but I missed it completely.

It is a terrific and gripping film which will keep you on the edge of your seat and linger in your thoughts. Russell Crowe is absolutely fantastic as the jaded detective who decides to follow a young man who has killed his parents as a juvenile and will be freed on his 18th birthday.

Crowe gives a nuanced, agonised and delicate performance in this psychological thriller. Now I have seen way too many jaded detectives in psychological thrillers and I am – dare I say it – just a little jaded with the genre.  

But this has a delicacy and a deftness about it that lifts it way above other movies. Jon Foster’s performance as troubled young Eric is just extraordinary and moving  and you see great strength in the doubts he places in your mind about his past or potential guilt.

Sophie Traub plays Lori, a young woman who has become obsessed with Eric. Lori hasn’t had a happy life, but then hardly anyone in psychological  thrillers ever has. Her home life and her loving scrapbook about Eric define obsession and she creates an unforgettable character.

Laura Dern is woefully neglected, but she puts in her usual excellent turn as Teresa and makes you wonder, yet again, why she isn’t much more famous than she is.

The whole thing just hangs together really well and will haunt you. Emil Stern wrote the low key screenplay, based on Robert Cormier’s novel.

Australian Jon Polson, who has had a varied acting career, brings a flair and style to the direction of this. Although it is set in New York State, it has that glorious Australian movie knack of defining character in a loving way while permitting development of the plot to unfold, gently.

Yes, I know Australia has a lot of glib populist culture too. But the best Australian movies have this astonishing feel of bringing something different to the ordinary, with intelligence and warmth.

Do see this. It really is a fantastic achievement.

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Responses

  1. Excellent. This one popped through my letterbox yesterday morning. I would have watched it by now but found myself somewhat ‘distracted’ by ‘The Quick and the Dead’, which arrived at the same time.

    Roll on tomorrow evening when it will be straight in the Blu-ray player!

  2. I absolutely agree with you about Crowe’s performance. I had just about given up on seeing
    him in anything besides “action” movies. It was re-
    freshing to see him in something different. I must
    say, however, that one of the unsung heroes of this
    film is Jonathan Goldsmith’s haunting score. Any
    relation to the great Jerry Goldsmith?


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