Nashville - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Nashville Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 15, 2007
Through music and a god-like point of view, Robert Altman offers us the intimacies of american society in all its wide, kaleidoscopic nature. it's as real and pedestrian as a filmmaker can get without making a documentary, but delving into the same kind of truths.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2014
A clever, well-paced satire about country music and politics taking place on a weekend in Nashville, TN. Amidst the backdrop of an upcoming election, a country music festival takes over the town while a multitude of characters are detailed, all seeking happiness. A tale of manipulation and false expectations concerning fame and celebrity, director Robert Altman's masterpiece is an indisputable triumph of satirical sadness. It is a dark, somber movie, but one that is phenomenally acted and written, which keeps its audience's attention throughout its demanding near three-hour running time. Keith Carradine and Barbara Bixley shine brightest in terms of performances, but really this is an ensemble effort with an ending that is unexpected, and utterly brilliant.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2012
Now I finally see why Robert Altman was so beloved. I never understood why he was spoken of as a genius. Now after finally seeing his 1975 near-masterpiece, "Nashville," I get it.

Through a strange set of coincidences, I never saw "Nashville" until now. I can remember when it came out. It received a lot of praise from serious critics and was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, including Best Picture (it lost to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"). But it was never embraced by the mainstream. "Jaws" was the big movie that year. Everyone went to see "Jaws," including nine-year-old me. But almost no one went to see "Nashville."

But over the years, it has taken on classic status. And I can see why. "Nashville" is so innovative that it's a bit challenging to watch. But if you give it the time and stay with it to the end, I think you'll be happy you did.

I would describe it as one of the first post-modern films. It has about 25 characters, each with his/her own story line. There is no major character in the traditional sense. No one storyline dominates. I'd say that 1970s America is the main character. In many ways, Altman was holding up a mirror to the America of his day and showing us ourselves. He takes a panoramic ethnographic viewpoint, if you will. He's describing a culture, not focusing in on specific individuals.

Initially, it's captivating. But after about an hour, the lack of a central storyline became a bit wearying to me. There's not that much drama. But something magical happens in the last 20 minutes or so. The threads all come together beautifully, with a violent act providing something of a crescendo.

When Altman pulls his camera slowly back in the last couple of minutes, encompassing more and more in his field of vision, "Nashville" soars. It becomes a poem about America, almost perfectly capturing the longing, the sadness mixed with giddiness that was 1970s America. The irresponsibility, the fixation on music and entertainment, the persistence, and 100 other things. "Nashville" captures the feel of the 70s so well that it's almost mystical. A major work of art that I would enjoy watching again and again.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2011
A hilarious satire of country music, Altman's Nashville is one the best ensemble pieces ever created.
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2011
Okay so I just finished this a bit ago, and it hasn't all quite sunk in yet, so my review might not be the best. Perhaps I should let it sink in for a while first and maybe even give it a rewatch, but I don't really have time to do that so take my review with a grain of salt.

First off, this film is somewhat overlong and a tad too meandering at times, and maybe just a bit pretentious, However, it carries a lot of influence (particular on the works of P.T. Anderson) and it is a rather incredible experience. This is an ambitious, sweeping epic look at America and the state of American life and culture on the cusp of the bicentennial filtered through the lens of around 24 characters who, despite having their own specific storylines, all interweave to form a narrative surrounding the effort to put on a concert rally for the state's presidential primary for a populist fringe candidate running on the Replacement party ticket. The film has an overall running time of 2 Hours, 40 minutes, with an hour of that time devoted to musical numbers (all songs written by the cast and some of the crew).

This is a broad mosaic of a film, but despite some of the heavy subject matter it is played out in Altman's loose, heavily improvised and mutilayered style. It's one of those movies where you can probably pick up more and more with each viewing, but is also a great sort of hang out film where, kinda like a crowded party, you can just sort of filter in and out of various conversations or moments and still pick up the gist. The film is rather successful at this for the msot part, though it took me a bit to really get inot it. Once I did though, things got really cooking, and I found this to be quite a film that says a lot without really saying or doing too much when you get right down to it.

I'm not going to list all of the 24/5 main actors, but I will say that most do a really good job. I wish they al lwere uniformly great, but hey there's so much going on here that the goods outweigh the bads. I think Lily Tomlin probably stuck out as the best for me though. I used to not pay her much mind, but she's really quite a wonderful actress. I knew she was good, but now I realize she's great.

You don't have to enjoy country, folk, or gospel to like this movie, but it obviously helps if you at least appreciate it. LIke I said, the film is overlong and rambling, but I was engaged for most of it. I think it works better as an experience more tha na proper film, but there's nothing wrong with that. This is a wonderful document that really captures the zeitgeist of the times, and is easily one of the best film of the 70s, which is really saying something given that the 70s was the best decade for cinema. I'm still not quite sure what to make of this movie, but as for right now, I'm quite impressed.

You should really give this one a look. It's a really well done and significant work of art.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2007
hilarious and heartbreaking and couldn't be closer to the bone. a masterpiece
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2010
Robert Altman's "Nashville" is the grandfather of the American mosaic (it's extended family includes "Short Cuts", "Magnolia", "Crash"). This 1975 classic is intensely American; showing the country in both good and bad ways. "Nashville" is a film that defies categorization. The songs the characters sing tell the story, yet it's not a musical. There are things to laugh at in the film but it's not a comedy. The depression and hopelessness most of these characters feel is never fully elaborated on so it's not totally a drama. There is social commentary on the entertainment industry and fame, politics, a woman's role in 70's America (more specifically Tennessee) but it never dips into full satire. There isn't even real plot points (expect for the films climax which is delivered with equal amounts of cheer and chilling hopelessness). There aren't even any main characters, though we do follow the lives of 24 different people. Even more so, all these people tend to talk over each other while Altman layers the dialogue with other voices, songs and presidential campaign propaganda. Without saying, the 2 and a half hour "Nashville" is a dizzying experience. But what makes it's so utterly fascinating (once you as the viewer gain your footing an hour or so in) is that Altman has such control over the world he has created. He knows every single aspect of these people and each one is important in one small way that isn't clear until it's final moments. And, it's so wonderful because none of these people are aware of the effect they are having on the world around them. Sure, we see how their actions effect things, but that's because we are visitors to Altman's world. We see what he wants us to see and in those small moments of despair or lust or joy or embarrassment these people feel, we are connected to them. The characters in "Nashville" are us, always searching and never realizing their true potential or simply passing it by once it arrives, their effect on the world, or how obvious the facades we display are. "Nashville" is about the shows we put on for the world, and how really, no one watches or cares. "Nashville" is an extremely complex but ultimately extremely rewarding experience, culminating in one of the finest films of the 1970s.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2010
Although I didn't really figure out what this film was trying to say, I still really felt myself liking almost every aspect of this film. I loved the timeframe it took place in, the locations and especially the vast array of characters. There is not too much to say about this film, other than it is a good mindless dramady that I think it worth a watch. It is definitely a classic and gave a lot of budding actors their starts in the industry.
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2007
while containing great production quality and an excellent cast, i found this to be a highly overrated film. it was entertaining, but at over 2 1/2 hours the film suffered from far too much aimless wandering. the entire film was characterized by randomness from the underdeveloped characters to the random connections of those characters that dont further the story. the film floats along with a total lack of focus outside of the ambiguous commentary on nashville and politics. a unique film but not as good as the hype.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2008
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2007
Altman is the only one that makes me understand the true meaning of the word auteur. This movie confused the crap out of me yet still I really liked it. How. Awesome.
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2007
Tied with Short Cuts and M*A*S*H as Altman's best work.
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2007
I saw this on the big screen for a local theater's 70's retrospective. Not many straightforward jokes, but as the movie progressed I appreciated the many funny characters and situations. Ronee Blakley is a Loretta Lynn-like Nashville star named Barbara Jean. Her husband/manager controls her life and she repeatedly falls ill because of the stress of fame. Ronee sings several songs she wrote herself. Keith Carradine, Karen Black, and Richard Baskin wrote many of the other songs performed during the over two-and-a-half hour film. Baskin plays a musician named Frog in the movie, who silently interacts with several characters. He contributed to eight songs, sometimes with the person performing the song getting co-writer credit. Carradine plays Tom Frank, one-third of a country/rock trio, who plans to split with the group for a solo career. The other guy in the group, Bill (Nicholls), is pretty clueless to the fact that Tom has been sleeping with the girl of the group, Mary (Raines). In fact, Tom is such a womanizer that he sings his break-out solo hit "I'm Easy" to a crowded bar with four women spread around that he has bedded. Black plays Barbara Jean's biggest rival, Connie White. Karen Black doesn't get much screen time, but I was impressed by her performances. Gwen Welles, Robert DoQui, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, and Shelley Duvall provide much of the comic relief. Goldblum and Duvall especially eliciting laughs with some wild 70's get-ups. Harris humorously tries to find her big break in country music. Another major character is played by Henry Gibson. Gibson is the old-timer, but still popular Haven Hamilton. Haven has quite the ego as a bona fide celebrity of the country music capital and star of the Grand Ole Opry. He is always surrounded by his family and entourage. Lily Tomlin is gospel singer Linnea Reese, who has a husband and two kids. She wrestles with whether she should have an affair with Carradine's Tom Frank. Her husband Delbert is a music agent and is played by Ned Beatty. Delbert is working with John Triplette (Murphy), who is trying to arrange for a benefit concert for politician Hal Phillip Walker. We never see Presidential candidate Hal Phillip Walker, but we see a van with loudspeakers driving all around town, presumably with Walker's voice explaining his political positions on various topics. Walker is not identified as being Republican or Democrat, but claims some vague third party. These ambiguous stump speeches contain some of the most slyly satiric bits. Finally we have Geraldine Chaplin, as BBC reporter Opal. As a Brit, Opal thinks she can objectively observe the culture of Nashville, and as a reporter she feels entitled to insinuate herself into all types of personal and professional events. Chaplin is hilarious in her commentary of the ways of Nashville.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2014
Looking at those heels under the microphone in this poster, and the heels under the peace hand in the poster for "M*A*S*H", it would appear as though Robert Altman had about as big of an obsession with legs as, well, I do. ...So, uh, yeah, anyways, if I can get to my obligatory song reference, I'm going with, "Going back to Nashville, thinking about the whole thing; guess you gotta run sometimes", even though there are plenty of songs about Nashville to make reference to. Nothing says musical quite like Nashville, yet in a discussion of a lively musical, of all songs I could have made reference to, it was a folksy ballad by David Mead that's almost 30 years younger than this film. Well, shoot, Nashville is best known for its country, and considering that the '70s still had a little bit of that tasteful, old-fashioned and, well, less lively "country" that Nashville is grunting out nowadays, I don't know how upbeat you can make the numbers in this film. After that minimalist Leonard Cohen soundtrack "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", I don't know if I can entirely trust Robert Altman to turn in the most colorful tunes. Shoot, this film is over two-and-a-half hours long, so these numbers better be livelier than an old Leonard Cohen or a new David Mead ballad, because it sounds like the plot is aimless enough. Well, sure enough, this film, while not especially rewarding, is pretty fun, despite taking its sweet time to wander along a path that isn't even wholly original.

Well, although this narrative hits its share of tropes, I don't know if this film is so much formulaic in structure, as much as it feels formulaic, almost lazily succumbing to the almost tired tone and flavor of other epic ensemble comedies of its nature, yet still not embracing that sort of color as it probably should. The film has the potential of being something like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", and is considered a comedy-drama, something that it is too tonally uneven to effectively be, breaking up lively, if not somewhat cheesily surreal black humor and satire with quarter-baked tensions over conflicts and characterizations which are themselves questionable. The film's storytelling is nothing if not overblown, except in its depths and subtlety, which stand as the most glaring reflections of the natural shortcomings of this actually thin story concept of little consequence which works so blasted hard to compensate for the limitations of its subject matter with excessive plot layers. Following 24 main characters with various stories of varying themes, this film tells way, way too many stories of limited consequence to keep up with, being terribly uneven in focus, due to its being so overdrawn with segments whose presence to begin with reflects a serious bloating. The film's runtime clocks in around 160 minutes, and, well, to be blunt, that is [u][b]way too blasted long[/u][/b], being achieved largely by the aforementioned excess in material, and partly by filler which ranges from overlong song performances, to mere meanderings which would be easier to embrace if they weren't kind of dull. Yes, this film is dull, at least at times, of which there are enough for you to settle in and focus on the limitations of the story concept, and the inconsistencies of its telling, until too much momentum is lost for the final product to achieve the particularly fulfilling state that it perhaps could have achieved. Nevertheless, the film entertains so much that it comes to the brink of rewarding, at least being fulfilling as a portrait on the Nashville music scene.

Now, with all of my joking about how this film's musical numbers better be lively if they're going to occupy some of the runtime, seeing as how this film isn't as flamboyant as it perhaps could have been, there are no song and dance routines to drive storytelling, but rather, prominent performances of the country and gospel tunes which define the Nashville music scene, and whose genuineness defines the taste of this musical. Sure, the tunes aren't particularly exciting, not unlike, well, Leonard Cohen's soundtrack for "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (Wow, I underestimated how subdued Robert Altman can get), but they play a key role in bringing life to this film as an entertaining and faithful tribute to the capital of southern American music. Still, this film is mostly about, not so much the music, but the characters of Nashville, taking on a simply unreasonable amount of plot branches and never getting very heavy with any of them, until it comes out both thin and overblown, yet by no means colorless, for each layer of this pseudo-epic of an ensemble satire-drama is reasonably interesting, with memorable leads who are all well-portrayed. This cast isn't given much to do, but for all of its members to deliver as best they can is impressive, for just about everyone features his or her own distinguished charisma to sell the dynamicity of this overblown, yet thankfully not monotonous ensemble piece. The performers are at least worked with very well by Robert Altman, who, as director, takes a surprisingly subdued approach that gets a little bland when material starts to lapses, but graces the film with a consistent sophistication which helps in making it compelling enough to border on rewarding, and rarely dulls things down too much, due to the film's rarely losing material to draw upon. Joan Tewkesbury's script is exhaustingly overblown in structure, to the point of being uneven in tone, believability and focus, while never getting ambitious enough to transcend certain conventions, but it remains fairly sharp more often than not, drawing many a distinguished, memorable character for the performers to portray so charismatically, while delivering on plenty of witty humor and biting satire for Altman's direction to grace with subtlety. What is done right and done very well in this epic of an ambitious satirical comedy, and although the excess wears you down enough for the final product to fail at fulfilling its full potential, - no matter how limited - entertainment value keeps consistent enough to endear, even if it doesn't quite reward.

When the music finally died down, the film, with a rather formulaic feel, takes way too long to travel down a path which is inconsistent in tone and focus, yet still not overblown to the point of putting all that much meat on the bones of a somewhat inconsequential plot, whose color is still done enough justice by a solid soundtrack and cast, and clever direction and writing for Robert Altman's "Nashville" to stand at the brink of rewarding with its entertainment value and intelligence as a massive, if improvable tribute the music and other characteristics of the lively city of Nashville, Tennessee.

2.75/5 - Decent
Super Reviewer
½ April 19, 2013
In the canon of Altman films, I appear to be one of the lone voices in being disappointed with this effort. Altman's observational approach to film making seems to work well in films like the Player but I didn't feel the same impact was felt here.
Jason Vargo
Super Reviewer
November 6, 2011
The trailer to Nashville makes a point to mention the 24 "unforgettable" characters in the film and their stories which will captivate the audience. It's great marketing, to be honest, considering close to half of the characters show up for three seconds (out of 160 minutes) and don't do anything of any interest. The other half hold up the story-a story about country music singers, politics, marriages, understanding. With all those characters and a nearly obscene running time, it's not a wonder most of the stories feel half baked. Just as the audience begins to get invested in the action on the screen, the momentum is stopped to focus on something else. And by the time the original story comes back, the tension has subsided. Add to that a very flimsy overarching storyline about a third party presidential candidate and it's hard to imagine why so many people hold this film in such high regard. Which would then question the three stars I'm giving it. Why? For director Altman, who wrangles the cast and manages to make the film comprehensible. For the music. And for the sheer audaciousness of the entire enterprise.
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2009
"Y'all take it easy now. This isn't Dallas, it's Nashville! They can't do this to us here in Nashville! Let's show them what we're made of. Come on everybody, sing! Somebody, sing!"

Robert Altman's 'Nashville' is simply one of film's greatest achievements. Combining improvisation, drama, and comedy to forge Altman's best and most un- forgettable movie experience.

The rotating plot centers around the city of Nashville, TN. the country music capital of the world. A mysterious van campaigning for politician Hal Phillip Walker circulates the city spouting off campaign promises. The unseen Walker is trying to win candidacy for the U.S. Presidancy. He belongs to the newly formed "Replacement Party".

Of the many plot threads, my personal favorites were:

the tale of Barbra Jean (Ronee Blakely), a country queen who just suffered a mental break down. She is also idolized by a solider (Scott Glenn) who trots along like a loyal puppy.

Linnea Reese (Lilly Tomlin) the choral singer and mother of two deaf children, who shacks up with music sensation Tom (Keith Carridine), a womanizer.

Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn), a man who brings his niece, Marthe (Shelly Duvall), to care for his dying wife. She cares more about celebrities, (including Tom, who she also shacks up with), then her dying aunt. Green also rents a room out to a mysterious stranger (David Hayward).

And finally Haven Hamilton, (Henry Gibson), an egotistical, aging, S.O.B. of a country star.

All mentioned above do splendid work, especially Wynn, there are some heart-breaking scenes in the hospital, where his wife stays.

For the climactic assassination scene, Altman knows not to underscore the scene with music, but with crowds, movements, faces and cutting. Altman is a master he makes you know why in that scene alone.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2013
Only Robert Altman could have pulled off this film, and only in the 70s could a movie like this have been made by a major studio and become a critical and financial success. For that and its setting it serves as a snapshot of a very particular time and place in American history. Its funny, sad, and quite bizarre.
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2010
Robert Altman's stunning cinematic mosaic, is a bold work of art commenting on the American dream, while focusing on Nashville, the dream center and cultural capital of country music. A work of amazing audacity and prodigious talent by the late great director Robert Altman. Its an odyssey of 24 different characters and their experiences during a period of several days at a Nashville political rally, this masterpiece is full of cogent character studies, comic and poignant vignettes, done in unique engrossing style. The performances from its extraordinary ensemble cast is remarkable, they include: Henry Gibson, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garifield, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, Keenan Wynn, and two brilliant Oscar nominated performances from Ronee Blakley and Lily Tomlin in her screen debut, that proves that she is a tremendously gifted actress. Chosen as best picture of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics, and received 5 Academy Awards nominations including Best Picture and Best Director Robert Altman. Won Best Original Song 'I'm Easy' by Keith Carradine. A fantastically entertaining American classic from the mid 70s. Highly Recommended.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2012
Every single Altman film I see i get the same feeling. I haven't seen his full filmography but I've seen enough to pick up a trend. That trend is that his films are over extended. I'm fine with a longer movie, and even though his aren't the longest, they sure feel like they are. This applies to Nashville greatly. The first 30 minutes it kept me entertained, but as I moved on it got more and more boring. I like films that transition between multiple characters, in this case Altman made the classic mistake that happens in a lot of those movies, and doesn't give you enough to are for the characters. This film had to many useless scenes that could've been cut out, and since they weren't it made it boring, the film was beautifully shot and well casted. But it didn't give you enough entertainment value. Don't get me wrong I can see why it's a classic, but in my mind it's nothing special
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