Tenderness

Director John Polson brings us this interesting, and tense 2009 thriller, starring Russell Crowe, Jon Foster and Sophie Traub. Foster plays Eric Poole, a man who was imprisoned for killing his parents and for the rape of a young girl and ho has now been released.

Tenderness

Tenderness

Never a good idea. Traub plays Lori, one of those strange inadequates who becomes fascinated with killers and who decides it would be a good idea to stalk him, eventually meeting up and embarking on a road trip as they try to escape the pursuit of Detective Cristofuoro (Crowe) who is determined to track them down. All three central characters are very interesting, with their own character twists and obsessions, Lori’s strange obsession with Poole being mirrored by Cristofuoro’s obsession with his hunt. It almost seems sometimes that the murder is the most sane of the three!

While both, Poole and Traub, are excellent as their sometimes fragile, sometimes aggressive characters, Poole especially cultivating a nice line in menacing blandness, it is Crowe who stands out for his performance of a man at war with his demons, an inner conflict that spills out into his real life and drives him to his goal. Poole on the other hand is trying to control his emotions and his aggressive tendencies, making us constantly wonder when he is going to kill again and if Lori will become his latest victim. The unpredictability of these characters ads a great deal of tension to the movie though it is a shame that Lori’s story is so unremittingly grim, despite Traub trying to lift it from time to time with some strangely inappropriate levity.

The script is good and tightly plotted, as much of a character piece as a thriller and giving the actors plenty to work with and both production design and direction are great with the cinematography really fitting the director’s vision. Though perhaps a little slow for the first third, this isn’t really a problem as it gives time for the backgrounds to the characters to become seeded, leading onto the remainder where the pace picks up nicely and becomes knife edge tense on many occasions.

Director: John Polson
Stars: Russell Crowe, Jon Foster and Sophie Traub

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