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Jessica Chastain & Michael Shannon’s Showtime Series – The Hollywood Reporter


Watching George Jones (Michael Shannon) and newly-loved Tammy Wynette (Jessica Chastain) perform together at a bar, country music producer Billy Sherrill (David Wilson Barnes) received a wild response from the crowd.

“Look how they look at them,” he remarked, with musician George “Rich” Richey (Steve Zahn) beside him. “George and Tammy are men who once loved a woman and women who once loved a man.” Rich thinks it’s “just poetry,” but Billy sees something else. “Not poetry. Commerce,” he said, adding only after a pause: “And poetry, I suppose.”

George & Tammy

Key point

Chastain and Shannon are a natural couple.

Broadcast date: Sunday, December 4 (Showtime & Paramount Network)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Michael Shannon, Steve Zahn, Kelly McCormack, Walton Goggins, David Wilson Barnes
Creator: Abe Sylvia

It’s true that the two stick together in Showtime’s George & Tammy, denotes a relationship in which tumultuous romance has fed chart-topping music, and vice versa. But it’s the first part of Billy’s statement that really gets to the heart of the series. Above all, it’s a love story, almost as gripping and lamentable as the tunes that catapulted the pair to lasting fame.

Created by Abe Sylvia (who wrote last year’s Oscar-winning Chastain car, Tammy Faye’s Eyes) and directed by John Hillcoat (Three 9), the miniseries is not intended to reinvent the artist-biography wheel. Its structure is a fairly simple chronicle of the couple’s journey — from their first meeting in the late 60s to their stormy marriage in the 70s and to their collaborations. their last in the ’90s. (“Why should we let a divorce ruin a perfectly good partnership?” Tammy asked wryly.)

Nor does it quite manage to break through the clichés of a musical drama, like elaborate wigs and hit songs deployed as literal over-descriptions of events. The event we’re watching is happening. Its very premise cannot help but call things like line walk or A star was bornespecially in the first episode that introduces Tammy as a rising star on the Nashville stage, and George as a somewhat shriveled man with a serious alcohol addiction that his bandmate (Walton Goggins) is forced to ice. Knee glue to keep him upright enough to perform.

But perhaps because it’s based on a memoir written by someone so entangled in both of their lives – their only biological daughter, Georgette Jones – the perspective of the series remains close and unusually personal, focusing above all on the very relationship they both experienced. people inside it. To tell that story, George & Tammy Give yourself the luxury of time. While the series is fast-paced, in that it covers about a quarter of a century in six six-hour episodes, you need to be extra careful not to rush the moments that make up those decades. It gives way to uncertain silences, meaningful glances, playful moments with the kids or time-repeated arguments.

Best of all, it spans the simple Tammy and George path look each other, and Chastain and Shannon say a lot by the way their eyes light up or darken or soften when they’re together. The fact that the two put together stellar performances should come as no surprise (even if their impressive vocals do). But in the scenes shot together, the intensity of their chemistry seems to show each other in a whole new light.

From that direct perspective, labels and templates that are remotely applicable tend to fade away. Tammy is not merely a meek little girl standing next to a man who has done wrong to her, but an ambitious talent whose love outweighs her reservations until that. not occur. George is a drunken horror, and George & TammyHis heartbreaking descriptions of his violent outbursts make no excuses for his behavior. But he is more than the sum total of his worst habits, and the series has managed to showcase the tenderness and humor that are also integral to his personality. You can judge their choices—and the series is well aware of how devastating and tragic many of them will turn out to be—but you’ll understand, at least, that they’ve achieved it. how is that.

The trade-off for such intimacy is a sense of scope. The pair’s huge successes can be gleaned from conversations about charts and records, or from footage of glamorous locations and buzzing crowds. Tammy and George’s place in the history or culture of country music in general is hinted here and there, by questions posed by a fan about Tammy’s anti-feminist message or questions by a fan. a radio host devoted to George about his opinion of modern country music. But the series doesn’t focus on such issues long enough to make any specific statements about George and Tammy’s lives and careers that might represent those outside of them. For that matter, it doesn’t even dig into their relationships with those in their immediate vicinity, such as their spouses or children.

However, this narrow-mindedness is, in a sense, not a limitation but an expression of empathy. All over George & Tammy, George expressed contradictions about the difference between “George Jones,” the star who is loved by millions, and “Glenn,” a troubled man he truly understands. The series’ existence completely proves the enduring appeal of the previous: the aging Glenns simply don’t take on the glitzy Hollywood projects of their lives, and the A-list cast, sensitive direction, and music The season’s inevitable fascination will definitely strengthen or introduce the series. the legend of George Jones and Tammy Wynette comes to a new TV audience. In the end, however, it is the latter that proves to be the key. George & Tammy succeeds where so many other biopics fail: by bringing its themes to life not as myths — but simply as a man and woman, deeply in love. and not perfect.

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