A Prairie Home Companion

Plot: A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America’s most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court.

Imagine trying to pitch this film to a studio: No tacked-on romance plotline. No big explosions. No farfetched melodrama.  In a world of countless superhero franchises and an unrelenting stream of Nicholas Sparks films, A Prairie Home Companion didn’t have much of a chance. Luckily, legendary director Robert Altman was at the helm, in what would turn out to be his last film.

“Duct tape will not make an honest man out of you.”

-Yolanda Johnson

Throughout, a woman in a white raincoat walks through the set, a symbol of ending and death for the cast members, the radio show itself and Lindsay Lohan’s career. Hey, at least she managed to get a film with Streep in her filmography before she imploded, right? The rest of the cast add a little more credibility to the proceedings with Lily Tomlin perfect paired as Meryl’s sister (here’s hoping for a Streep cameo in Grace and Frankie’s second season) and Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly are a believable pair of moonshine swigging cowboys.

 

Out of all of the music based films that Meryl has appeared in, this suits her voice best; classic Americana and country songs rather than ABBA karaoke or some overwrought Sondheim. It’s hard to describe what this film is. It has songs, but you wouldn’t class it as a musical. It’ll make you laugh, but it’s not really a comedy. While it’s not for those who are looking for a repeat of the cheap popcorn thrills of Mamma Mia, those who persevere will be handsomely rewarded.  Seeing as this is one of her top rated films of the 2000s, it’s a real shame that it is mostly unknown.

 5/5

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