Reviews

Tenderness

3

Crowe can’t let it go…

“Nobody gets to escape their pain,” intones Russell Crowe at the start of this quietly bleak, Raymond Carverstyle study of lives in limbo. He would know. His dogged Detective Cristofuoro is retired, but can’t put behind him a previous case where he put away a teen who killed his own parents. He’s also struggling to process a tragedy in his marriage.

The object of his obsession, Eric (Jon Foster), is about to walk free after a perfunctory sentence, but remains locked in battle with his own compulsions. He’s befriended/ stalked by damaged-goods 16-year-old Lori (Sophie Traub), who’s trying to evade abuse and boredom. Will anyone escape their pain as Eric and Lori embark on a road trip with Cristofuoro on their tail?

Emil Stern’s screenplay may be intriguing but it betrays its literary origins with some clunkily poetic, often jarring lines. Would a grizzled cop really brief colleagues by telling them that a killer enjoys “the last beautiful sigh in his hands”? You can practically see some of this stuff written on the page. And the supposedly devastating resolution lacks real surprise for any viewer looking for red flags along the way.

Luckily, Clint Eastwood’s lenser Tom Stern is on hand to gloss these glitches with some eerily beautiful photography of crumbling upstate New York locations which, together with a haunting soundtrack, creates a strange dreamlike quality that reflects the characters’ emotional stagnation. Director John Polson knows how to ratchet cheap tension (Swimfan, anyone?) but here he allows it to build languidly.

That doesn’t give Crowe much to do – and to his credit, Old Bolshie tones down his more theatrical impulses to disappear in subtle characterisation. He works little more than a dismal moustache, oatmeal jumper and exhausted walk to portray a man consumed with a mission he doesn’t want – leaving the quicksilver Traub to scene-steal to sombre effect.

Verdict:

A muted drama that succeeds in conveying disconsolation and suffering without nailing a satisfying sense of motive. Decent enough, but for Crowe it’s more of a stop-gap between Ridley Scott assignments.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • alicecbrown

      May 25th 2010, 12:02

      2

      SPOILERS: this movie was very tedious to watch, having a deaux ex machina incident every 10 minutes. Having had a few teen-agers, and living in the year 2010, I know that no serial killer, no matter how young, would be let out of jail (much less juvie) after killing 3 people. Since I haven't read the novel, I had no idea why the kid freaked out and killed his parents, and the director sure didn't tell us. The special feature on the DVD indicated that two Aussies were mainly responsible for this and were friends of Russell Crow, so maybe that's why it thudded so much in depicting American teen-agers. Here are just a few of the co-incidences that were never logically explained: 1. Eric leaves Lorelei (I thought she was the one who charmed sailors onto the rocks) at the motel and then shows up at the carnival. And, sure as fate, there comes Lorelei. How did she get there and how did she know he was going there? He just said he was going to meet Maria. 2. On the lam, the kids stop at a motel. With no hint that Russell has been trailing them, he pulls into the same motel, goes in and eats and doesn't even see the car there, nor the car leaving with them in it. 3. The girl rushes out of the restaurant, and suddenly in the same moment, there he is outside the restaurant, when he was sitting at a table inside when she rushed out. There was no back entrance shown. 4. He seems not to have any magnetism, nor is he handsome, so it doesn't make sense that the girl in juvie would send him a note, indicating she wanted to date this maniac 5. No idea given of why he leaves flowers at the roadside cross, unless that's where his wife was hit which resulted in her being in a coma. Was this thing edited to death? The producer said that they had several writers on the case. So maybe this was just patched together. It was just too much of a monster fairy tale. On the other hand, maybe having a nonsensical movie makes it more 'mysterious' and 'alluring', just as the serial killer was to the girl. Waste of time.

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