“Every night when I say my prayers and I thank the Lord for his blessings and his tender mercies, you and Sonny hit the list.”
A former country music star (Robert Duvall) starts a new life with a young widow (Tess Harper) and her son (Allan Hubbard).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Character Studies
- Robert Duvall Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary seems less than impressed with this Oscar-winning film, directed by Bruce Bereford and written by Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Horton Foote. In his review, he argues that “the attempt at realistic dialogue between common people who aren’t pretentious often comes across as pretentious”, but I disagree: Tender Mercies is a fable-like, episodic character study rather than an exercise in realism, and I find the sparse dialogue to be appropriate. Duvall is both sympathetic and believable as a man so burnt-out on fame and fortune that he gladly finds redemption in the form of a sweet, simple, religious woman; his interactions with Hubbard (a wonderfully natural child actor) are especially poignant. Even more impressive, however, is the way in which Foote’s screenplay never takes obvious turns: we fully expect Mac to start drinking again once he steps back into the world of country music, but our expectations are foiled. Although it ends on a melancholy note, Tender Mercies is a surprisingly feel-good film, one which is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Robert Duvall’s sympathetic performance as Mac
- Betty Buckley as Mac’s ex-wife
- Beautiful cinematography of Texas landscapes
- Horton Foote’s refreshingly uncliched screenplay
- Some genuinely touching country music songs
Yes, simply for Duvall’s Oscar-winning performance.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
- Oscar Winner or Nominee