Monday, August 25, 2014

Tenderness (orig. La Tendresse) [2013]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  LaCroix (3 1/2 Stars)  LeFigaro (3 1/2 Stars)  LeMonde (2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (4 stars)

IMDb listing
FrenchFilmSite listing
Alociné.fr listing* (C. Renou-Nativel) review* (M. Tranchant) review* (I. Regnier) review*

Variety review
HollywoodReporter (S. Dalton) review

Tenderness (orig. La Tendresse) [2013] [IMDb] []*(written and directed by Marion Hänsel [IMDb] []*) is a gentle French-Belgian-German co-production that played recently at the 2014 Chicago French Film Festival held at the Music Box Theater on Chicago's north side a festival cosponsored by the French Diplomatic Mission to the United States.

The film's about a long divorced Belgian couple, Frans (played by Olivier Gourmet [IMDb] []*) and Lisa (played by Maryline Canto [IMDb] []*), who receive word that their college aged/20-something son Jack (played by Adrien Jolivet [IMDb] []*) had an end-of-season skiing accident somewhere in the French Alps.  As is often the case, initially it was not clear how bad the accident was.  In any case, however, it was necessary for both to go down (together) to the alpine resort town where their son had the accident to pick-up Jack as well as his car/belongings to bring him/his stuff home.

This is then the setup to a lovely "road trip" of sorts (it's about 8 hours driving from Brussels to the French Alps) about the ties (and love/tenderness) that remain even after definitive separation/divorce.

The dialogue is priceless.  As the two begin their journey (Frans is remarried, Lisa is not) it's pretty obvious why the two came to part ways: He's a perfectionist, she's more adventurous / relaxed (even if perhaps somewhat forgetful as well).  He's a miser, driving 20 minutes out of his way into Luxemburg to save a few Eurocents on a liter of petrol.  She just shakes her head, when they arrive at the "cheap gas station" and ... it's closed ;-).  But they are both gentle enough to not kill each other on the road.  And by the time they arrive they've come to an accommodation with each other to the point that Jack's girlfriend Alison (played by Margaux Chatelier [IMDb] []*) comments about how surprisingly good (dare one say "in love") they seem to be with each other.

Honestly folks, this is GREAT AND GENTLE FILM that "the French" could make in a way that "Anglo-Americans" could not.  For 40-something couples married, remarried or divorced, this would make for a fascinating piece for reflection.

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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