Review: ‘Tender Mercies’

Robert Duvall is Mac Sledge, a down-and-out ex-country and western singer on the skids since his marriage to fellow C&W warbler Dixie (Betty Buckley) broke up.

Robert Duvall is Mac Sledge, a down-and-out ex-country and western singer on the skids since his marriage to fellow C&W warbler Dixie (Betty Buckley) broke up.

Out on a drunken binge one night, he winds up in a small motel in Texas prairie country, and next morning accepts an offer of work from Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), the young widow who runs the place. Rosa Lee’s husband had been killed in Vietnam, and she is having trouble keeping the motel and gas station going, and at the same time looking after her small son (Allan Hubbard).

Sledge stays on, the couple fall in love and marry. When tragedy unexpectedly touches his life, he finds he now has the strength to keep going and achieves new peace of mind.

Tender Mercies is, in the best sense, an old-fashioned film. There’s no sex, no violence. Duvall is dignified and moving as Sledge; Harper is most affecting as the widow he loves and marries; Hubbard almost steals the film as her inquiring son.

1983: Best Actor (Robert Duvall), Original Screenplay.

Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Original Song (‘Over You’)

Tender Mercies

US - UK

Production

Antron Media/EMI. Director Bruce Beresford; Producer Philip S. Hobel, Mary Ann Hobel; Screenplay Horton Foote; Camera Russell Boyd; Editor William Anderson; Music George Dreyfus; Art Director Jeannine Claudia Oppewall

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Robert Duvall Tess Harper Allan Hubbard Betty Buckley Ellen Barkin Wilford Brimley
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