While director Bruce Beresford has often dwelled on the amusing peccadilloes of southerners, in this film he has adapted his style to characters whose manners are as plain and unadorned as the landscape they inhabit. The film stars Robert Duvall as Mac Sledge, formerly an icon of country & western music, now down-and-out, a penniless alcoholic. Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), the young widow who owns the rural Texas motel where he has ended up, allows him to work off his board. As the months pass, the singer develops a bond with Rosa and her young son, experiencing the healing effects of this deeply religious woman's compassion. They become a family when she accepts Mac's offer of marriage, and he continues to rebuild his life. He attempts to see his daughter, Sue Ann (Ellen Barkin), whom he hasn't seen in years, and despite a nasty dust-up with Dixie (Betty Buckley), his ex-wife, is finally able to do so. However, the last tragedy he must confront is one that will truly test his recovery. Less a traditional story than a chain of epiphanies on faith and love, this masterpiece of low-key naturalism is arguably the finest work in the distinguished careers of both Duvall and Beresford.
1983 - Academy Awards - Best Actor Winner
1983 - Academy Awards - Best Original Screenplay Winner
Bruce Beresford - Australian Director
Philip S. Hobel - Producer
Robert Duvall - American Actor/Director
Bodge - American Actor/Director
Horton Foote - Texas Playwright/Screenwriter
Allan Hubbard - Supporting Actor
Tess Harper - American Actress
Betty Buckley - American film, stage and television actress
In this movingly atmospheric film, a washed-up country singer remarries and attempts to start a new life for himself. Despite his battles with depression and alcohol, his new wife and son stand by him and help him turn it all around.
Shot in Waxahachie, Texas. Robert Duvall wrote and sang his own songs for his Oscar-winning performance in TENDER MERCIES.
"...Real delicacy and emotional power, both largely attributable to a fine performance by Robert Duvall..." - 03/04/1983 New York Times, p.C8
Included in The New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1983" - 12/25/1983 New York Times, p.II:15
"...An outstanding film....[The] acting is fine down the line..." - 12/29/1982 Variety