A Prairie Home CompanionThursday 04 Jan 2007
'A Prairie Home Companion' is the final cinematic creation from one of the more divisive directors of our time; the late Robert Altman.
The title of the film is the name of one of America's most popular radio shows that currently has over 4m weekly listeners. The show was started in 1969 by Garrison Keillor, who plays himself in the film, and mixes country and western music with fun musical commercials for make-believe products.
But this is no biopic.
Instead Altman bases his film during an imaginary last broadcast of the show and the many characters that are played by some of Hollywood's most prominent actors - Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Lily Tomlin, John C Reilly and Lindsay Lohan - each get an almost equal share of the limelight.
Throughout the film there are live singing performances from all the characters mixed with behind-the-scenes banter as each person faces up to the inevitable end of the show. There is a theme of death running throughout and every character deals with it at one stage - 'The Dangerous Woman' who appears in different scenes signifies the Grim Reaper.
The performances throughout are all excellent, except for the first 20 minutes where each star seems to over-act in order to make their presence felt early in the film. Kevin Kline, however, unfortunately continues to do so throughout.
Altman, who directed such films as 'Gosford Park' and 'The Player', made films that earned applause and criticism. With 'A Prairie Home Companion' once again he created something to divide the opinions of moviegoers as they attempt to encapsulate either the film's virtues or demerits.
Finally, here is my two cents.
I didn't enjoy this film and found it quite hard to keep interest. I thought it lacked in terms of a storyline and I found it difficult to identify or care about any of the characters.
Maybe I wasn't supposed to. Either way, I just didn't get it.