banner image

:: A Prairie Home Companion

The beauty of a Robert Altman film, amongst other things, is his ability to capture his subject in a slice-of-life fashion, and take the viewer on an all-access pass behind its façade, exposing the characters and emotions that lie within it. He has done this time and time again, be it the world of fashion in ‘Prét-a-Porter’ or that of ballet in ‘The Company’, and does so once more in his latest film, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.

This is a pleasant story set on a drizzly Saturday evening in St. Paul, Minnesota, where fans gather at the Fitzgerald Theatre to see “A Prairie Home Companion,” a staple of radio station WLT. The live show features spoken-word dialogue, musical acts, and the obligatory commercial spots.

In the opening scene, we learn that this family-owned radio station has been bought by a Texas conglomerate, and we observe the behind-the-scenes mischief of the show's last performance.

The cast is a dream team of cinematic greatness: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Lily Tomlin, and new-kid Lindsay Lohan. There isn’t a bad performance in the entire group.

Those unfamiliar with the history of the actual radio show might occasionally feel lost and wonder what all the fuss is about. The film lacks much of a plot, at least conventionally speaking, but amongst the singing, joking, and tomfoolery is a story with a deeper under-tone, if you care to see it.

There are moments in the film that deal with the topic of one’s mortality, life and death, and the end of an era, so to speak. The film maintains a retrospective feel that is not all that surprising, seeing as it is coming from the viewpoint of an ageing 80-something Altman, who is no doubt expressing his own nostaligic thoughts and emotions.