Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Hard Part Begins

(Paul Lynch, 1973)
Decent, hard-working road musician Donnelly Rhodes tours his country band through his hometown, and finds himself confronting the life he left behind - a stressed-out ex, a suicidal JD son, a bedridden buddy, and a hoser who thinks he knocked up his sister. Meanwhile, the touring van is breaking down, the clubs are all switching to rock music, the labels want his girlfriend not him. A rock and a hard place - the point being that he made his choice of life, on his terms, and is sticking by it. And no, he doesn't win some big music contest at the end. This is Canfilm in born-to-lose, post-Goin' Down the Road purist mode - Lynch even casts McGrath and Bradley in pivotal supporting roles in case we didn't get the hint. Rhodes meanders from encounter to encounter in an episodic and not wholly satisfying manner, but there's plenty of compensation in the abundant local color of the smalltown Ontario bars and diners in which the story unfolds. Memorable faces and exchanges are everywhere, and the humane, dimensional performances more than justify the laconic narrative. Crucially, the music is pretty good too - makes you feel like something's at stake.

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