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Tender Mercies (1982)

Robert Duvall , Tess Harper , Bruce Beresford  |  PG |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley, Ellen Barkin
  • Directors: Bruce Beresford
  • Writers: Horton Foote
  • Producers: Robert Duvall, Horton Foote, Mary-Ann Hobel, Philip Hobel
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Republic Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 1999
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0782010679
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,957 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tender Mercies" on IMDb

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
143 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As close to perfection as movies ever get. November 4, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Tender Mercies" proves beyond doubt that Americans can make movies the way Europeans do, and still make them unmistakably American. Sure, the director, Bruce Beresford, is Australian, but screenwriter Horton Foote and star Robert Duvall--both of whom won richly deserved Oscars--root this movie firmly in Texas soil. As Mac Sledge, an alcoholic country singer trying to rebuild his life and career, Duvall gives a performance of astounding complexity and emotional impact, all the more astounding because of its laconic spareness. It ranks as one of the greatest performances ever given by an American actor. He is nearly matched by Tess Harper as his new wife and Ellen Barkin as his daughter from his first marriage, and Russell Boyd's photography captures the Texas prairie in all its stark, lonesome beauty. Two other performances that deserve praise are those of Betty Buckley as Mac's country-star first wife--a woman who has let paranoia and resentment take over her life--and Allan Hubbard as Mac's stepson, a resoundingly normal, likable kid. Don't come to this movie looking for slam-bang action--it's a quiet, gentle slice of life, brimming with poignant emotion, filled with love and respect for its characters and their way of life.
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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect movie about an imperfect man. July 10, 1999
Format:DVD
Sometimes you can't do it any better. This is one of those times. Bruce Beresford has crafted a perfect film; one whose only drawback is that it ever has to end. Beresford, Robert Duvall and Tess Harper manage to create both characters and a world that allow you fall into the screen and forget you are watching a film. You will be moved to both tears and laughter, and left feeling very warm in a subtle way forgotten by most of today's films that try and twist your emotions with blunt force trauma.

It is the story of a man, Mac Sledge, who has seen bright lights and soaring heights but has now fallen on extremely hard times. Drunk, broke, and looking none to trustworthy, Mac is befriended, and finally loved, by a young widow and her son.

And that's basically it. There's a subplot involving Mac's estranged relationships with his daughter and ex-wife, but primarily it's about one man picking himself up, dusting himself off, and getting on with life after having been kicked in the pants.

The crux of the film is Duvall, and in more ways than one. First and foremost is his complex portrayal of Mac. Conditioned by so many formula movies, you keep waiting for Mac to fall of the wagon, only to redeem himself again somehow. But Mac never does fall, and Duvall lets you see just how difficult that is; how hard, but also how satisfying, it is for a man to stand up to life when all he wants to do is run and hide. And he does it without ever even doing so much as raising his voice.

But his acting isn't all Duvall gives to the film. Singing his own songs, Duvall makes you firmly believe that Mac Sledge has an ocean of musical talent.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
It so happens that Tender Mercies was my very first DVD purchase - only because it was marked down to a ridiculous $7.49 (probably due to a protracted shelf life) and because it is easily one of the best American films of the last twenty years (hang it! of the last fifty years!). Bruce Beresford is one of those itinerant directors who has managed a career out of a suitcase. Yet every film he has made, excepting perhaps Her Alibi, is something of a masterpiece. Tender Mercies could be used to instruct film school students about how suggestive a film can be with an absolute minimum of means. Mac Sledge and the people he encounters in that armpit of the world have only the most rudimentary means of expression. Song writing, though littered with the usual emblematic platitudes, is his only chance at what might otherwise be mistaken for self-transcendence, but is actually his only way of expressing the bafflement he feels in the face of life. Meretriciously, but sweetly, his bitter ex-wife (played beautifully by Betty Buckley) has made a good living off all the love songs he once wrote for her, and continues to sing them (albeit without conviction). When he finds happiness again, even if he refuses to trust it, he is compelled to write songs again. And one of the loveliest scenes in the film is his unassuming return to singing. And Robert Duvall creates another of his sculptured performances of a simple man who finds eloquence through his mistrust of happiness and his bewilderment at life. Tender Mercies is a Great American Film, without bothering with the ubiquitous sound and fury that signifies so little in most others.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet, wonderful, worth seeing October 5, 1999
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I am so used to the commercial-minded movies of today that every time the characters in this film would settle into a quiet moment, I would wait for someone to pull out a gun or go crazy and beat someone up. But by the end, I was comforted by the quiet, powerful way that this movie is made. Robert Duvall is fantastic, and so are all of the supporting characters. If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone considering watching this movie, it would be to relax, because this movie doesn't require you to be on your guard. It's not going to get your trust and then go crazy. That's what I found so amazing about it.
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