TIFF 2022 | So Much Tenderness (Lina Rodríguez, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Angelo Muredda 

The past imprints itself on the present daily in So Much Tenderness, Lina Rodríguez’s third narrative feature and a companion piece to her recent documentary My Two Voices (2022), which was about the hybrid identities of Colombian-Canadian women. That diasporic experience is shared by Aurora (Noëlle Schönwald), an environmental lawyer who migrates to Canada from Colombia under duress following the murder of her husband. The film follows the efforts of Aurora and her daughter Lucía (Natalia Aranguren) to keep that trauma at bay while laying roots in Toronto in the months and years to come, submerging us in the work-life minutiae of her present even as images (and figures) from Aurora’s past intrude. 

True to its title, So Much Tenderness is delicate work, with Rodríguez staging some lovely ephemeral moments of connection as life springs up around the women in the mundane, semi-comfortable new lives they’ve carved out for themselves in a city that houses countless such stories. Rodríguez’s observational acuity is evident in the tense opening act that sees Aurora making her way across the border with the aid of a Canadian couple played by Toronto filmmakers Kazik Radwanski and Deragh Campbell. This confident set piece, which has the sustained urgency of a good political thriller, plays out in hushed tones, nearly silent save for the odd Canadian pleasantry like “Sorry” and the car’s banal-turned-eerie soundscape of turning signals, traffic, and soft bumps on the road. That specificity is lacking at times in the back half, as Rodríguez turns her attention more to Lucía and her friends, whose generational preoccupations and dialogue feel thin by comparison, but when it stays in this ambient, detail-oriented mode, the film’s portrait of Aurora’s displacement—and ultimately, adaptation—is indelible.