Thursday, October 21, 2021

‘tender’ is good vibes heightened by sweet music and moody sets

tender film poster. 

Queen Sugar and Grey’s Anatomy story editor and staff writer Felicia Pride has an amazing short film called tenderThe fifteen minute piece focuses on two women at different stages of their lives— the professional Kiana tied to a job for fifteen years and the hipster Lulu looking for her future to land. The twosome explore a poignant morning intimacy around the most beautiful set design and gentle music composition— tying everything together in a neat, bonafide rhythm. 

First, Asha Santée (the musician to all featured songs) plays a subtly soft melody in the background as Kiana inspects herself in a stranger’s bathroom mirror, believing that she made a huge mistake in spending the night. Leafy green plants are everywhere, suggesting the space of a nature lover, an herbalist maybe. Lulu knocks just to insure that her guest hasn’t fallen in the toilet. When Kiana emerges, the world is no longer a clean, isolated location slightly raised up. She is in the realm of Lulu’s carefully curated realm. 

Kiana (Farelle Walker) leaning on the wall, drinking coffee in Lulu’s stylish studio apartment.

Kiana (Farelle Walker) and Lulu (Trishauna Clark) on opposite ends of the spectrum. Noticeably Kiana often nervously looks away and Lulu looks head on confidently. 

While sipping a cup of real fine coffee, Kiana stands around in her heels and jacket, visibly eager to leave an impressionable environment that features a gorgeous painting of a Black woman, giant rug, random books on both side table and coffee table, records in a crate (such a thrifty style), and draping patterned fabrics that do not match but seem to be appropriately right for this majestic space. It feels warm, inviting, lived in. This thoughtful design showcases a person with eclectic taste, someone interested in many things, one’s hand in many pots. Lulu— the owner of this world— is lazed about in her darling red socks and athletic shorts, well posed among her artful arrangement, teasing Kiana throughout this early day. This space is hers and she adores welcoming certain people into it.

And Kiana is a lucky one. 

Kiana (Farelle Walker) is getting comfortable. 

The earthy tones 
glow around Kiana— woven baskets, pillows, candles, and more books to welcome the hesitant woman who finally decides to remove her jacket. She suddenly feels more at home at Lulu’s, beginning to unwind and open up on another level that a typical one night stand usually doesn’t call for. 

Conversation further opens over a glaze of hazy smoke, peeling back layers. They each have wisdom to offer the other— food for thought. Kiana freely shares her life’s regrets and fears for the future including the long, bubbled scar on her abdomen that symbolizes a physically closed door. Lulu—utterly attentive and charming, staring at Kiana with profound generosity in her gaze— reveals an old desire to become an actress. After she convincingly recites a moving monologue, it makes no sense that an ex destroyed a dream. She is truly talented, raw in the craft. 

And to Kiana— Lulu still has the time to follow her heart.  

Lulu (Trishauna Clark) lighting up for good measure. 

A double winner at the Blackstar Film Festival for the Lionsgate/STARZ Producer and Short Film Award, tender is a lovely film that has its art sewn in the compelling visual optics and the musical notes telling a sweet story about falling in love— the slow, simmered kind. Ludovica Isidori’s cinematography captures the spirit of Felicia Pride’s metaphor filled screenplay and direction. The set design is simply a stunning framework to behold as the two incredible leads Farelle Walker and Trishauna Clark bring Kiana and Lulu to contemporary life. 

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