Happy and sad at the same time: The last film by the old master Robert Altman is about farewells. Our TV tip
“The death of an old man is not a drama,” says Robert Altman’s last film. An aged country singer falls asleep gently in his dressing room while he waits for his wife to visit by candlelight and in boxer shorts. But despite adorable absurd scenes like this one: The legacy of the director who died in November (“Short Cuts”) does not go through as a comedy.
“Robert Altman’s Last Radio Show” is a nostalgic number revue with great actors: Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin act as singing sisters. Woody Harrelson is part of a squeaky hillbilly duo for whom every song is just an excuse to crack as many dirty jokes as possible. Kevin Kline leads the action as a security guard, following a dangerously attractive angel.
But beneath their exuberant happiness, the story of the last joint appearance by a radio show ensemble breathes melancholy and tragedy. Altman dresses this aesthetically in neo-film noir images – it is not for nothing that the would-be detective and narrator calls himself Guy Noir. But Altman does not paste it up with the seriousness and pathos of a Wim Wenders. He knows how to ironically break any situation. Altman doesn’t make a single mistake in the course of his grandiose film and finds the perfect balance between laughing and crying, between love for his characters and justified ridicule. A worthy farewell for a great master of film art. (kab)
August 26, 2021 // Matthias Jordan