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Prairie Home Companion, A


Stars: Meryl Streep, Garrison Keillor, Woody Harrelson, John C Reilly, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Virginia Madsen

Director: Robert Altman

A likeable shambles, Altman's final film centres on the last night of the fabled radio show of the title, a programme that mixes country music with homespun humour. The theatre that houses it is to be torn down for a car park, and the axe-man (Jones) cometh.

On stage, singing sisters Streep and Tomlin alternate with singing 'cowboys' Harrelson and Reilly, veteran L Q Jones and black soul vocalist Jocelyn Steele, while Streep's talented daughter (Lohan) waits in the wings, and the show is knitted together by the dry humour of its writer/begetter Keillor (the driving force behind the real radio show of the same name).

An Angel of Death (Madsen) comes for L Q, and the show's security man, the Chandleresque Guy Noir (Kline) persuades her to carry off the axe-man too.

One too many songs from the duettists reveal this as a rambling tale with nowhere much to go, but proceedings are enlivened by the stream of doubtful jokes told by Reilly and Harrelson (who, like the rest, have nothing left to lose) towards the end.

Altman completists will vote this a must; others will find it passes the time pleasantly (if inconsequentially) enough.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: The Works. Technicolor.
106 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 02 Jan 2007