Whenever someone yells “It’s a Trap!” you typically want to listen. In this case, Julie knows deep down that Charlie is not a good person and getting together with him isn’t a good idea…but she ignores this feeling. What happens next is what you would expect, drama and tragedy. What holds this film back is how unlikable Charlie is and the fact that you can’t believe him when he tries to show how much he has changed. He gives us too many fakeouts during the film for this to even be somewhat believable. It’s too bad, Julie could have chosen someone a lot more noble.
The film starts with Charlie’s old friend Joe shows up to live with him for a while. He basically showed up unannounced except for a letter informing Charlie of the new situation. Charlie’s fine with this arrangement, but Joe quickly grows jealous. Joe may be married and have 2 kids already, but he’s greedy and wants to be able to play the field again. He gives in to the temptations of the big city and quickly becomes a terrible character. Meanwhile, Charlie is using everyone that he can, but one day a girl by the name of Julie refuses to get together with him. Charlie takes it personal and decides that he’s going to change her mind.
As you can already see here, one of the tricky parts of the film is that Charlie revels in his life style. He cheats on all of his girl friends. It’s played for laughs, but that will immediately cause you to dislike him. There is really just no going back from this point on. Even after he proposes to someone else, he quickly does the same with Julie and is quickly found out. Julie may be extremely gullible and not all that smart, but even she is able to piece the puzzle together once it becomes plain as day. It was just too late for Charlie to change things.
Another plot line in the film is about the corruption of the big city. Joe was happy with his life until he fell for the “Grass is always greener” trick and began to date someone even though he’s already married. That was the first red flag. After that, he even gets ready to propose to someone and goes to call his wife to explain why they can’t be together anymore. He is shut down by the person that he proposes to (Sylvia) so he ends up keeping the marriage but it makes you wonder how real it is. The wife will never know what a backstabber Joe is which is unfortunate.
I can’t say that Sylvia or any of the other people who hung out with Charlie were any good. The argument that Sylvia made is that they had no prospects left so they didn’t mind being the 2nd or 3rd choices, but that’s a really low standard to set for yourself. It makes it less personal when Charlie cheats on them I suppose, but it doesn’t help their cause. Julie is the only one with real personality and backbone, but the plot just doesn’t go well for her. At first, she does a good job of explaining why she shouldn’t bother eating out with people she’s not serious about. That’s an argument that I can buy into. Next, she explains that she has a very specific plan which even has a deadline on when she has to be married. That’s when she lost me.
Julie has planned out the rest of her life which includes how many kids she’ll have, what schools they’ll go too, when she’ll be married, etc. She has to follow her plan by the book and it doesn’t allow for any debate or alterations. The obvious downside of this is that she’ll have to rush and find someone if the deadline is close, even if it’s not the ideal person. The plan is essentially what makes her choose Charlie and it’s not the greatest way to pick a husband. After he tricked and cheated on her multiple times, I was kind of hoping that she would do something about it. Like you know…..breaking the whole thing off? Instead she apologizes for getting in the way of affairs and decides to settle for being one of them. They break up again after Charlie does more of this, but they get back together again so you have to wonder what the point of it all was.
The film is fairly well written, but that’s not enough to save it. You can have the best writing in the world, but if the characters are unlikable, then it is all for naught. Of course, you can make the case that a well written film would automatically make the characters likable, which is valid I suppose. It could have been better, but the script wasn’t that bad. The themes were just the main part that I could not agree with. I differed with the film quite consistently. Otherwise, the film didn’t do much wrong. It had a few humor moments scattered in and the living room setting gave the film a retro Odd Couple sort of feeling. It made the film more personal and laid back. It’s no thriller of course, but that would have just meant that the director had mixed up the genres.
There are a few songs in this film since Frank Sinatra is in it, but they don’t play as much of a role as you might expect. The tunes definitely weren’t bad, they weren’t the greatest, but they’ll do in a pinch. A little music can go a long way as long as it’s quality and the actual songs are certainly better than what you may hear nowadays. I could go on a tangent about the state of the music industry, but this isn’t really the time or place for that debate.
Overall, The Tender Affair is a pretty misleading title. There’s nothing tender about this one as you could call it something more appropriate with ease. “The Rebound Affair” “The Artificial Affair” “The Planned Affair” etc. There wasn’t anything tender about it, both Julie and Charlie needed the affair for personal reasons. They weren’t very noble either. Julie let her idealistic version of romance cloud her judgment and Charlie had been through many affairs before. He just likes the attention. If you want a real romance film…then I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head. If you want a film about the bonds of friendship and making the tough calls, watch Madoka Magica Rebellion. That’s a film that you won’t regret checking out!