Sometimes everything comes together in a movie and it becomes something so much greater than the sum of its parts that it can only be described as a miracle. That's the case with Tender Mercies, a quietly luminous characte... more »r piece about an alcoholic, washed-up country singer named Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall in an Oscar-winning performance) who hits bottom in a motel room one night and then slowly finds his way back into the land of the living with the help of the widow (Tess Harper) and her young son. It's a low-key, contemplative film that feels like a rural American family comedy in the vein of the great Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu. Tender Mercies was directed by Australian Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Breaker Morant), written by Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird), who won an Oscar for his screenplay, and has an unbeatable cast. This is one of Duvall's most intimate and deeply personal performances, matched only by his debut 14 years later as actor-writer-director in The Apostle. --Jim Emerson« less
It was a bit slow and dated but a very good storyline and many well known actors and actresses when they were younger. Definitely worth a watch and a must for country star fans!
As close to perfection as movies ever get.
Miles D. Moore | Alexandria, VA USA | 11/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Tender Mercies" proves beyond doubt that Americans can make movies the way Europeans do, and still make them unmistakably American. Sure, the director, Bruce Beresford, is Australian, but screenwriter Horton Foote and star Robert Duvall--both of whom won richly deserved Oscars--root this movie firmly in Texas soil. As Mac Sledge, an alcoholic country singer trying to rebuild his life and career, Duvall gives a performance of astounding complexity and emotional impact, all the more astounding because of its laconic spareness. It ranks as one of the greatest performances ever given by an American actor. He is nearly matched by Tess Harper as his new wife and Ellen Barkin as his daughter from his first marriage, and Russell Boyd's photography captures the Texas prairie in all its stark, lonesome beauty. Two other performances that deserve praise are those of Betty Buckley as Mac's country-star first wife--a woman who has let paranoia and resentment take over her life--and Allan Hubbard as Mac's stepson, a resoundingly normal, likable kid. Don't come to this movie looking for slam-bang action--it's a quiet, gentle slice of life, brimming with poignant emotion, filled with love and respect for its characters and their way of life."
Another Great American Film made by a foreigner . . .
unhelpful | 05/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It so happens that Tender Mercies was my very first DVD purchase - only because it was marked down to a ridiculous $7.49 (probably due to a protracted shelf life) and because it is easily one of the best American films of the last twenty years (hang it! of the last fifty years!). Bruce Beresford is one of those itinerant directors who has managed a career out of a suitcase. Yet every film he has made, excepting perhaps Her Alibi, is something of a masterpiece. Tender Mercies could be used to instruct film school students about how suggestive a film can be with an absolute minimum of means. Mac Sledge and the people he encounters in that armpit of the world have only the most rudimentary means of expression. Song writing, though littered with the usual emblematic platitudes, is his only chance at what might otherwise be mistaken for self-transcendence, but is actually his only way of expressing the bafflement he feels in the face of life. Meretriciously, but sweetly, his bitter ex-wife (played beautifully by Betty Buckley) has made a good living off all the love songs he once wrote for her, and continues to sing them (albeit without conviction). When he finds happiness again, even if he refuses to trust it, he is compelled to write songs again. And one of the loveliest scenes in the film is his unassuming return to singing. And Robert Duvall creates another of his sculptured performances of a simple man who finds eloquence through his mistrust of happiness and his bewilderment at life. Tender Mercies is a Great American Film, without bothering with the ubiquitous sound and fury that signifies so little in most others."
A perfect movie about an imperfect man.
M. Lampers | Perdition | 07/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes you can't do it any better. This is one of those times. Bruce Beresford has crafted a perfect film; one who's only drawback is that it ever has to end. Beresford, Robert Duvall and Tess Harper manage to create both characters and a world that allow you fall into the screen and forget you are watching a film. You will be moved to both tears and laughter, and left feeling very warm in a subtle way forgotten by most of today's Twist Your Emotions With Blunt Force films.The story of a man, Mac Sledge, who has seen bright lights and soaring heights but has now fallen on extremely hard times. Drunk, broke, and looking none to trustworthy, Mac is befriended, and finally loved, by a young widow and her son. And that's basically it. There's a subplot involving Mac's estranged relationships with his daughter and ex-wife, but primarily it's about one man picking himself up, dusting himself off, and getting on with life after having been kicked in the pants.The crux of the film is Duvall, and in more ways than one. First is his complex portrayal of Mac. Conditioned by so many formula movies, you keep waiting for Mac to fall of the wagon, only to redeem himself again somehow. But Mac never does fall, and Duvall lets you see just how difficult that is. How hard, but also how satisfying, it is for a man to stand up to life when all he wants to do is run and hide. And he does it without ever even doing so much as raising his voice. But his acting isn't all Duvall gives to the film. Singing his own songs, Duvall makes you firmly believe that Mac Sledge has an ocean of musical talent. With not much of a voice, and singing rather simple, country tunes, Duvall nevertheless evokes powerful images of love, loss and redemption.Certainly there is never a good reason not to see any movie starring Duvall, but this one is perhaps the finest of them all, with only The Apostle and Lonesome Dove ranking up there with Tender Mercies.As I said, you don't want Tender Mercies to end. You want to spend just a few more minutes with Mac and his family, maybe getting to hear him croak out one more soft tune. But end it does, and it does so both subtly and abruptly. It's abrupt because you really aren't expecting the final scene to be the final scene. There's been no mammoth resolution of these people's lives, just slow and steady change and improvement. But that's why I also call it subtle. Because the sudden end fits in perfectly with the picture's meaning. Life doesn't end with swelling music and concrete resolutions, and stories about life are truer when they don't as well. Tender Mercies ends as it began, with a simple moment cut out of a man's life. And it's the triumph of the movie that it allows you to compare the simple final scene to the first one and realize that, for Mac Sledge, it's an accomplishment as dramatic as walking on the moon."
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 02/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Duvall gives the most complete performance of a spectacular career. He stars as a washed up country named Mac Sledge. Booze has been his down fall and his once great career is now in the toilet. He ends up with a woman (Tess Harper) and her young son. He starts to pick up the pieces of his life by doing work around the house. He fall in love with the woman and they eventually marry. He sings a few songs at a local honky tonk and everything is going great. His ex-wife (Betty Buckley) is still a big star, but is struggling with their daughter. The daughter comes and sees Mac and they bond like they never have before, but she is tragically killed. He must come face to face with all his past problems. Mr. Duvall plays the role of Mac perfectly. We feel his troubles, his loss, the rebirth he goes through. He is stunning in the role. Ms. Harper is very good as is a very young Ellen Barkin as his daughter. Mr. Duvall won a richly deserved Best Actor Oscar and Horton Foote who had previously won an Oscar for To Kill A Mockingbird (in which Mr. Duvall made his debut in) won a second for his screenplay."
Quiet, wonderful, worth seeing
M. Lampers | 10/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am so used to the commercial-minded movies of today that every time the characters in this film would settle into a quiet moment, I would wait for someone to pull out a gun or go crazy and beat someone up. But by the end, I was comforted by the quiet, powerful way that this movie is made. Robert Duvall is fantastic, and so are all of the supporting characters. If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone considering watching this movie, it would be to relax, because this movie doesn't require you to be on your guard. It's not going to get your trust and then go crazy. That's what I found so amazing about it."