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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tender Mercies (1983)

A once famous country and western singer (Robert Duvall) finds himself stranded in a small roadside motel after a night of drinking. Without funds, he offers to work off the money he owes to the young widow (Tess Harper) who owns the motel. With her help, he begins a long road to recovery. Directed by Bruce Beresford (DRIVING MISS DAISY) from an original screenplay by Horton Foote. Foote (TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL) has a feel for characters like these and the terrain they inhabit. They're the real thing and he never condescends to them, they're allowed their complexities rather than being made "simple" because they're country people. Foote's story, however, is deceptively simple. It's a quiet unassuming film with a lot going on. Duvall's Oscar winning performance is the film's linchpin, his best work but the rest of the cast are all very good. At first, I thought Harper's role was underwritten and now I'm not sure if I was wrong or it's just that Harper brings a strong authenticity to the part. With Betty Buckley (excellent), Ellen Barkin, Wilford Brimley, James Gleason and Allan Hubbard. 

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