07 January 2007

"The soundtrack of being stuck in the car with your parents"

The above is a quote about the radio show around which Robert Altman's final film "A Prairie Home Companion" is based. I went to see the film yesterday with Fiona, and we enjoyed it very much.

Like most of what will now definitely be called Altman's late-period films, there is little obvious concession to the standard structure of a story, the film begins with the end of an outdated mid-western radio variety show and takes us through the final show in real time, offering us an insight into the performers and crew of the show without ever patronising the audience by spoon-feeding the details of character or history.

As usual there is an ensemble cast of brilliant character actors, this time joined by Garrison Keillor as a fictionalised version of himself, all of whom inhabit their characters superbly and with a rare sense of believeability.

The heavy "Americana" music quotient means this film is not for everyone, and some will undoubtedly be frustrated by the more fantastic elements of the plot, but for fans of Altman, Keillor (who also wrote the script) or the original radio show, this will prove a wonderful treat.

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