Saturday, December 02, 2006

[1980] HONEYSUCKLE ROSE: So I picked this up because Pauline Kael gave it five pages in her book for 1980 through 1982, and it's definitely on the very okay side of things. It's weird to see Willie Nelson before he became permanently stoned actually try to act, and do reasonably well with it. But he has a really good supporting cast (Slim Pickens, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving) and his character is a version of himself--he's Buck Bonham, travelling country singer. And he's always on the road which is wearing on his wife (Cannon;) meanwhile his best friend (Pickens) is retiring and is going to be replaced on the tour by his (Pickens' character's) daughter (Irving.) And Willie starts falling for Amy Irving, who has idolized him since she was a child, and there you have the PLOT! I would say for the first 45 minutes or so this film is really good--there's lots of performances, including a Cannon-Nelson duet, an elaborate family reunion concert, and an Emmylou Harris run-in. But once the PLOT! gets going and Willie's character has to do stuff the movie kind of flounders; there isn't enough of a reason (that I saw) for him to fall for Irving, or try and get back with Cannon, or for Cannon to take him back, except for that's what would give the movie a conventional happy ending. Yeah, there's too much half-assed drama in here for me, spoiling Willie being Willie and a bucketload of Southern vignettes and "on the road" vignettes. I mean, the climatic fight is Willie versus a drunk Slim Pickens--did anyone really want to see that? I don't think even the filmmakers did, which is why they blew it off and had Slim and Willie go get drunk right afterwards. A bit more performance and a bit less conflict-for-the-sake-of-conflict would have done it a world of good.

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