After several years of juvenile incarceration for the horrific murders of his parents, Eric Poole (Jon Foster) is released back into the world amidst much controversy. While dealing with his wife's terminal condition, Retired Detective Cristofuoro (Russell Crowe) keeps close watch on Eric after his release waiting for him to slip up. Shortly after returning to his Aunt's home, Eric sets off to Albany to look at colleges. Suspecting that there is more to the trip that Eric is letting on, Eric's Aunt Teresa (Laura Dern) notifies the Detective of the trip. Fueled by an obsession by a seemingly chance encounter with Eric before the murders, a young and immature teen, Lori (Sophie Traub), forces a second encounter and finds herself accompanying Eric on his journey all while both searching for their own version of tenderness.
While it's no secret that this is not a perfect film, there is something to be said about this adaptation of Robert Cormier's novel. Instead of drawing from high suspense of the occurring events and without spelling everything out for the audience like most American films, Australian director Polson focuses on studying the film's characters. Though the characterization is a worthy effort, I still felt that the full potential of each character's depth was not explored. As long as you can get past Polson's earlier work and view the film with an open mind, you should be able to enjoy 'Tenderness' for as much as I did.