Tender Mercies is a movie of gestures rather than dialogue. The characters cannot tell each other - or us - what they feel or believe, either because they are being deceitful to others or, even more often, because they do not know themselves. They are at their most open when they sing, and for this very reason they are at times wary of song. Their actions are the most reliable guide to their inner selves, though, because they can't help but act, for better or worse. Over everything there is only the certainty of uncertainty - Mac Sledge doesn't know quite how he wound up in this tiny motel in the middle of nowhere, run by a widow who doesn't know how or even exactly when (forget about why) her husband died. A deeply humane film without the slightest trace of dishonest sentimentality, Tender Mercies might very well restore your faith in movies.
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