A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)

A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)


Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion" (2006) is flat-out wonderful, and he could do worse than end his career on this particular grace note.

It's difficult to talk about it; David Ehrenstein pretty much sums up what I have to say in his comments on "A_Film_By:"


But let me try add a little to what he says.

In effect, Ehrenstein believes the film is all about death. The premise goes like this: it's the last show of Garrison Keillor's long-running program (someone called The Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones) is coming to close the place down); people are constantly talking about people who they haven't seen for years, or have died; someone actually dies (backstage, quietly, in the basement, while waiting to have sex); and Virginia Madsen as The Angel of Death In the Form of a Femme Fatale wanders about wearing a white trench coat through the corridors of the old Fitzgerald Theater, where the show is performed.

Which ties in with Altman's unnerving fascination with death--at this point of his life, what with a heart transplant, and Paul Thomas Anderson waiting in the wings to take charge just in case, Altman can't not have the subject on his mind. And his feelings I think infuse the film with a sense of dread, of nostalgia, of sadness.

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