Review: Tenderness DVD

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: John Polson | CAST: Russell Crowe, Jon Foster, Sophie Traub, Laura Dern
RELEASE DATE: 4/13/2010 | PRICE: DVD $28.98
BONUSES: featurette
SPECS: R | 101 min. | Thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Based on the Robert Cormier novel (raise your hand if you ever read I Am the Cheese in junior high), Tenderness is a study in just how far the meaning of that word can be stretched by people who’ve never enjoyed the benefit of it first hand.

In the movie, teen Eric (Jon Foster, TV’s Accidentally on Purpose), within days of his release from juvenile detention for the murder of his parents, crosses paths with 15-year-old Lori (Sophie Traub, The Bend) — an eager interloper on his sinister upstate road trip. A retired detective (Russell Crowe, The Next Three Days), convinced Eric’s not quite done with his life of crime, undertakes a deliberate pursuit of the pair. The genesis of Lori’s attraction toward the young serial killer is revealed along their shared Lolita-esque tour of run-down motels, restaurants and one second-rate theme park.

Crowe’s leaden voiceover and the film’s heavy-handed score leave no room to doubt that director John Polson (Swimfan) intends to bring audiences down right alongside his tragic trio of leads. But Crowe is on screen more than you might think in this road-tripping, serial-killing, teen-angsty mash-up, and fresh-faced Traub is hard to look away from as a girl doggedly in pursuit of a most unconventional way out of her depressingly predictable existence.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss Laura Dern (Little Fockers) as killer Eric’s aunt.

And do check out the “Finding Tenderness” bonus short for the explanation behind Crowe’s appearance in this dark video premiere film.


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