Top positive review
56 people found this helpful
a charming and very engaging film
on 28 June 2007
I found this film absolutely charming. It's whimsical and fairly slow-moving, but so many delightful things happen along the way that it hardly matters. The music hall is due to be closed down - it has outlived its time - and we witness its last evening. Various acts perform : Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin are the singing Johnson sisters (both excellent, and Streep a revelation as a Country-and-Western performer ; she is a real show-stopper), Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly a cowboy double-act with a penchant for blue jokes, very corny and very funny. Kevin Kline is Guy Noir, the security man, a third rate private eye, and Virginia Madsen appears mysteriously in a white coat - she represents the end, closure, death itself. Holding it all together is Garrison Keillor, himself a first-rate performer and very good in this film, and the film does have structure as the show awaits the arrival of Tommy Lee Jones, who will close it down ; the consequences are to some extent unexpected. It was Robert Altman's last film and bears many of his hallmarks, the camera meandering around the characters and observing their performances, their conversations, their private behaviour. It ends in a diner, an effectively bitter-sweet ending which leaves at least one question unanswered. I enjoyed every minute of the film, and it's nice to have it on DVD with quite a few extras - commentary by Kline and Altman, how the film was made, interviews and deleted scenes.