A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nashville is a 1975 movie from acclaimed director Robert Altman. One scene briefly shows a woman topless and fully nude from behind, and a man is seen fully nude from behind. Adults are shown in bed together, implying that they've had sex, but only mild caressing and cuddling is shown. A couple of marital affairs are major events. A handgun is fired, a woman collapses, and large amounts of blood are briefly seen on her dress. A man's arm grazed by a bullet also briefly shows some blood on his clothing. Strong language is infrequent but includes a couple of uses of the "N" word and "s--t" several times. There are several scenes involving drugs and alcohol. Critically acclaimed and controversial when it was released, the movie is unlikely to appeal to teens today. It's a long character study of a large, ensemble cast that offers mature viewers a lot to think about and few, if any, clear answers.
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What's the story?
NASHVILLE follows a large cast of characters as they overlap and intersect over the course of five days in the late summer of 1975. As election season kicks into high gear, an operative (Michael Murphy) for an alternative Replacement Party presidential candidate tries to convince some of Nashville's top acts to perform at a rally for his candidate. Top star Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakely) is trying to mount a comeback after recovering from injuries she got in a fire. Folk/rock trio Bill, Mary, and Tom (Keith Carradine) are in town to record a new album while their personal relationships are falling apart. Opal (Geraldine Chaplin) claims she's making a documentary for the BBC, but her transparent attempts to schmooze with the stars just gets in everyone's way. Lots more characters round out the cast and shine a spotlight on a particular moment in time.
Is it any good?
Critically acclaimed and often included on “best films” lists, Robert Altman’s biting satire is both brilliantly subtle and epic in scale. But for all its brilliance, Nashville is a bit of a difficult undertaking. Altman takes a neutral, almost documentary-like style behind the camera as he gives his actors free reign to improvise as much or as little as they want and leaves the characters out to dry on their own. Often, lightning’s captured in a bottle, like when Tom sings “I’m Easy,” or when Sueleen (Gwen Welles) does the striptease. But the majority of what’s captured (whether funny, bizarre, heartbreaking, puzzling, horrifying, or anything in between) needs very active viewing and close attention to pick up on. And viewers need to keep that up for 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The music may also be difficult for viewers accustomed to emphasis on rhythm and simple ABAB rhyme schemes. At the time the movie was made many genres, not just country, emphasized what the songwriter had to say over rhythm and rhyme, with the result that a lot of melodies and lyrics veer off in unexpected directions. Patient viewers who enjoy leaning in and paying attention will be richly rewarded by amazing performances and a lot of food for thought, but it’s unlikely many teens, or even young adults, are ready to get everything out of Nashville that Altman had to offer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nudity in Nashville. How much is OK for kids and teens to see? Was the nudity gratuitous, or did it serve a purpose?
When it was released, a lot of people assumed the movie would make the country music industry look bad, or poke fun of it. Does it? Why, or why not?
There are a lot of characters to follow. Which were the most interesting or compelling to you? Why?
- In theaters: June 11, 1975
- On DVD or streaming: October 3, 2000
- Cast: Ronnie Blakely, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin
- Director: Robert Altman
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 159 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
- Last updated: February 7, 2020
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