Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Film review: Tenderness

Dir: John Polson
Cast: Jon Foster, Russell Crowe, Sophie Traub
Country: USA

"He's addicted to the intimacy of the kill" – Detective Cristofuoro

Hack! Yeah, you heard right. John Polson: friend to the stars, creator of Tropfest, local boy come good, narcissist and cinematic hack. If you want to pick a fight allow me to point to exhibit A: Swimfan (2002), a tedious, melodramatic and derivative thriller devoid of originality. Or exhibit B: Hide And Seek (2005), an abysmal film that Polson should be ashamed to have allowed De Niro near, also devoid of originality. And now exhibit C: Tenderness, a dreary, offensively earnest faux indie flick so preoccupied with its own smug self-satisfied direction that it might be worth waterboarding Polson till he promises never to step behind the camera again.

Russell Crowe drifts through his role as a retired cop convinced that Eric (Jon Foster), the teenager he sent to juvenile detention for the brutal murder of his parents, will kill again as he is released on his eighteenth birthday. Crowe isn’t the only one stalking Eric as he finds himself the equally unhealthy focus of 16-year old Lori (Sophie Traub), who passes for a groupie with a death wish. Jon and Lori take to the road together pursued by Crowe who borders on the catatonic along with Foster, as they each crash through the wall of various telegraphed and deeply meaningful metaphors.

It’s hard to imagine Tenderness speaking to anyone, so morbid, tiresome and pointless the whole nonsensical exercise proves. If only California’s three strikes rule applied to cinema certain filmmakers might at least think twice before serving up such turgid fare. I’m looking at you Mr Polson.

This review first appeared in 3D World.