"Christmas is approaching, fir trees are on display everywhere and family inevitably resurfaces like a mirror from which no-one can escape." Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: "Exploring in depth, with his usual uncompromising approach and extraordinary stylistic talents, the theme of difference and bad karma of human beings faced with their creations, Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó unveiled in competition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival a radical, fascinating and esoteric work: Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project."
"Coming back to one's inauspicious roots is a recurrent theme in Kornél Mondurczó's films and the opening gambit of his new one as well," writes Dan Fainaru in Screen. "This time, however, as the film's subtitle indicates, it is grafted on the Frankenstein myth, which he has already explored in a much gorier cutting edge stage show which toured all over Europe. The concept behind it all is clear enough and very similar to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein intentions: Humans create monsters and then blame them for what they are. Though displaying the visual sure-handed confidence already evident in Delta carries him along for a while, the script doesn't quite manage to deliver the dramatic impact that would do full justice to his intentions."
"Substituing a neglected, doleful-looking 17 year-old boy for the monster of the novel, the film hews pretty close to its literary template without ever engaging or unpacking the psychology of its protagonist or his parents," writes Guy Lodge at In Contention. "The worst thing I've seen in Competition, and in a year like this, that’s almost an achievement."
"It's pretentious, Gothic-tinged, and more than a little clunky," finds Matt Noller at the House Next Door. "The same could be said of Mundruczó's 2008 Cannes entry Delta, which was so lugubrious as to almost be an unintentional parody of humorless European art films. I slightly preferred Tender Son, mostly because it confirms what Delta merely suggested — that Mundruczó is a genuinely talented visualist, capable of putting together some really stunning, unusual imagery. Unfortunately, he's also kind of a halfwit, as shown by what passes for Tender Son's ideas."
Miserable grades at Letras de Cine.
Update, 5/25: "It's pokey and pretentious, and all character motivations, which are often contradictory if not ridiculously illogical, seem based on the film's symbolic needs rather than on real-life psychological desires," writes Peter Brunette in the Hollywood Reporter.