Magazine article Screen International

Tenderness

Magazine article Screen International

Tenderness

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Marion Hänsel. Belgium-France-Germany. 2013. 81mins

A delicate, delightful and thoroughly captivating road trip of reminiscences, Marion Hänsel's film - the first based on her own script - is a magnificently mature piece of work driven by thoughtful and engaging performances by Marilyne Canto and Olivier Gourmet. While perhaps too low key in tone to fully break-out, it deserves to be on the radar of experienced art house distributors.

On one level this is a film where little happens but at its tender heart Marion Hänsel's film is a compassionate, warm and very honest look at love and affection.

Tenderness (La Tendresse), which had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, is about family, affection, love and understanding, and this genial road trip is not only a fascinating drive through Europe but also a thoughtful look at the tenderness that is at the heart of all close relationships.

Lisa (Marilyne Canto) and Frans (Olivier Gourmet) have been separated for 15 years, but find themselves thrown together over two days when they drive from Belgium through France to pick up their son Jack (Adrien Jolivet), a ski instructor who has fractured his foot after a snowboarding accident with his girlfriend.

There is no animosity between Lisa and Frans, and clearly they still keep in touch, but their journey embraces their shorthand of understanding of each other along with moments of irritation with each other's habits. In many films what they still feel for each other could well have been anger, lust, indifference or jealousy, but as Hänsel's film gently builds it is clear that fondness and tenderness is at heart of their relationship.

The long drive allows them to talk vaguely about their past together, but the story is as much about the easy stillness and silences that can exist between them as much as it is about old stories and past memories. …

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