Tender Mercies

Director: Bruce Beresford
Year Released: 1983
Rating: 2.0

This is a mostly analgesic experience without much (if any) drama or believable character involvement (I kept thinking of a desolate and cheaply made Coal Miner's Daughter). Robert Duvall, who won an Oscar (he's good, but it's undeserved - the Academy skipped over him as Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, a move punishable by death), is an alcoholic singer/songwriter who hides out in a motel in some hick town in Texas trying to avoid civilization. He marries the motel's owner out of convenience, and has to play the role of surrogate father to the motel owner's curious little boy. Meanwhile, there's the whole subplot with his wife and daughter that isn't worth going into because the film doesn't handle it well at all - it's thrown in there for the sake of having a 'startling' moment at the very end. The movie's actual theme - it's about salvation (hence the baptismal scene) and becoming a good father to a son that isn't yours - isn't presented properly, given the stilted dialogue and some truly banal scenes. The script, shockingly enough, won an Oscar, too - apparently conversation like "What you doing?" "Nothing." "Oh." "I'm tired." "Me too." and the like said in a low drawl was a hit that year.