I only recently came across this gem of a film. It's quite short, only about 75 minutes, and essentially a simple story about how a woman with a Christian faith experiences the "tender mercies" of God, how a man who'd reached rock bottom finds a future and a hope and the woman's son acquires a father. The expression "tender mercies" occurs a number of times in the Bible's book of Psalms and I seem to keep coming across it - it is often associated with God's loving kindness. I've heard it said of Horton Foote who wrote the screenplay that he is as eloquent in what he doesn't say as in what he does.That is certainly true in "Tender Mercies". I also liked the honesty of Bruce Beresford's direction. I'm sure it's a film I shall watch time and again.
Mack Sledge is a former country music star, now living in a bottle, who rocks up at a Texas Motel, owned by Tess Harper. When he emerges from his cabin two days later, fresh from a drunken stupor, he realises that the friend who came with him has left him there with no money, and with a bill to pay. This is the story of how earning his keep at the Motel gives him the chance to earn some self respect, and to receive acceptance. His relationship with Harper's son, Sonny (Allan J. Hubbard) is an allegory for him being forgiven past mistakes, as it seems that he is the judge of this man's worthiness. Wonderfully evocative of an old country world. Robert Duvall is a revelation as a singer, and Betty Buckley is a vocal powerhouse as Mack's ex-wife. Take the time to relax with this film.
A somewhat quirky film about an aging Country and Western star, with a good sound track, and fine performances. Probably not for everyone, as it is 'just' a story and is devoid of action. Would suit fans of the music genre.