Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Russell Crowe plays Eric Poole, a sorta-retired cop who is following a newly-released killer. Maximus is sure that he’s the only one who knows he will murder again. Jon Foster plays the young murderer and Sophie Traub assumes the role of the broken young lady who has become the object of his desire.
Is it good movie?
Hey, this one is another movie starring a marquee name that no one has heard of! I won't lie- it has taken me quite awhile to get to watching this one because I find that an unmotivated Russell Crowe is torturous to watch and why else would this movie not have seen the light of day? Well, unfortunately for me there is a reason why this movie was left off of the big screen and it ain't just because of Crowe. This is one of those misleading flicks too where Crowe isn't really all that involved. He's on the cover of the DVD and gets top billing, but the movie is structured so that his role is more or less an extended cameo. And as I said before, Crowe really seems to sleepwalk through the role aside from a strong start in the opening scenes.
While we're on the topic, lets keep discussing the performances of the main characters. Jon Foster's performance as the killer isn't very good. It seemed to me that this character should have been more three-dimensional as he tries to strike the balance between good and evil (you know, the old 'does he have any good left in him' stuff). Instead, Foster seems too black and white and the role should have gone to a better actor. Sophie Straub's Laurie character could have stood to be a bit better written as well. We are led to believe she has suffered some abuse but the film doesn't explore that enough. Instead Lori comes off as a little annoying in some ways because we don't truly know her plight. Traub's performance is actually pretty decent but wasn't given enough gas to make the long haul.
Directed by John Polson, the guy who brought you Swimfan and Hide and Seek (oh man, did I hate that movie), this movie feels like a cocky little indie movie that tries to show you how cool it is. First of all, it's sort of ridiculous that Eric and Lori would have the relationship that they do- she saddles up with him on a road trip to check out schools? Lame. The movie is paced well for the first third or so but when they hit the pavement everything just slows way down.
Like I said before, this movie comes off in a somewhat pretentious way, trying to show you how stylish and deep it is. The killer is concerned with "the tenderness" of killing others and watching their life drain away, but there's so many lame voice-overs and flashback sequences to tell the story that the whole thing falls flat, is devoid of any real tension and packs a really disappointing ending.
Video / Audio
The aspect ratio is 2.35:1 and the transfer is sharp and vibrant, looks pretty decent.
Audio comes in 5.1 Dolby Digital and is just fine, considering that the film is mostly just dialogue anyway.
Only one extra here and that's Finding Tenderness, a brief featurette about the author comparing the book and the film while the actors do the usual glad-handing and back-patting.
There is a decent story in here, but the movie suffers from poor pacing, some poor casting decisions and feels really ho-hum and bland. Unfortunately, Tenderness is not the indie flick to rush out and tell your friends about.