Run time: 160 mins
Featuring a large ensemble cast, Robert Altman’s satirical musical follows various people involved in the country and gospel music businesses, over five days and nights in Tennessee.
The film opens with a musical number by country legend Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) against the backdrop of political tensions in the region. Nashville sets out to explore the conflict between appearance vs reality, which shape the political movements, relationships and careers of its many characters.
This is the original that defines the deceptively loose narrative style – a tragicomic tapestry of sharply observed and profoundly human character vignettes – we have come to call ‘Altmanesque’.
Such vignettes include the return of country queen Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakely) to Nashville, still fragile after a horrible on-stage accident. A ruthless rock star named Tom (Keith Carradine) phones a woman while another is leaving his bed, to hurt both of them. Lily Tomlin makes her film debut as a gospel singer, who is having an affair with rock star Tom. Her own sleazy husband Delbert (Ned Beatty) is trying to set up a lucrative media-political deal. It’s one of the most accomplished, influential and enjoyable films of the ’70s. (Jack Whiting)