“Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention as secrets and lies are surfaced and revealed.”
Robert Altman’s masterpiece is a study of American people and politics, set right in the heartland of a country that was still in social turmoil and about to see the political era of Ronald Reagan. I will say that one would benefit from seeing this film more than once. Having 24 characters, all with different stories, loosely strung together, sometimes solely by Jeff Goldblum on a tricycle, there’s a lot that can be missed upon the first viewing.
Although there was an actual written script for the film, it still relies heavily on the improvisation of its actors, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nashville is filled with so much talent, from Lily Tomlin to Henry Gibson to Keith Carradine. Each is fully engulfed in their characters, completely blurring any trace of the actual actor.
The film heavily intertwines entertainment and politics, showing how difficult it is to actually keep the two apart, something I feel is very relevant in today’s day and age. The entire film leads up to the climax where (and, spoilers ahead. Although, the film came out in 1975) the biggest country star in Nashville, Barbara Jean, is shot and killed on stage at a political rally. What makes this a little more eerie is that this film came out five years prior to one of the most publicized and heartbreaking celebrity assassinations, John Lennon in the year 1980. With the help of steady zooms, closeups, and tight frames, Altman builds a tension like no other in this final scene. I will say, that the final scene did not surprise me, though, because (and, again, spoilers), from the moment the character of Kenny gets upset when L.A. Joan touches his fiddle case, I knew he had a gun in there. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew.
Like I stated before, I do think that this is a film that the viewer benefits from multiple viewings. There is just so much going on with so many different characters, each one’s story equally as important as the other. As this was my first viewing of this film, I will say that I did enjoy it. But I missed so much. So, maybe when I watch it again, I’ll write another post. Until then, all I have to say is that one of these years for Halloween, I’ll have to dress up as the Tricycle Man from this film because, I mean: