DRAMA; 1hr 41min
STARRING: Russell Crowe, Jon Foster, Sophie Traub, Laura Dern
Dangerous liaison: Foster and Traub
Buffalo police detective Lt Cristofuoro (Crowe, furrowed with despondency) knows too much about suffering. Two causes keep him going — the care of his comatose, hospitalised wife and the certainty that a clean-cut high schooler (Foster as Eric) who killed his parents and is newly released from prison, is certain to kill again.
For her own, unhealthy reasons, teen introvert Lori (Traub) shares the detective’s preoccupation with boyish, 16-year-old Eric, whose murderous history excites her. Damaged and alienated, Lori thinks it’s cool to flirt with mortal danger. And contrary to appearances, Eric is definitely that: his nervous Christian aunt (Dern) knows it, Cristofuoro knows it and Foster’s fraught, unnerving performance leaves us in no doubt of it, either.
As Swimfan director John Polson, working from Emil Stern’s screenplay of Robert Cormier’s 1997 novel, presses heavily on the menace pedal, Lori and Eric embark on a twisted road trip with Cristofuoro in dogged pursuit. Disaster seems certain but the dangers are not as they appear. Like shards of smashed crystal, Tenderness reflects the light in sunless and unexpected shades.