×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Thing Called Love

Afairly typical tale of young talent on the rise in Nashville is given nicely nuanced treatment in "The Thing Called Love." There's not much new to say about the determination and disappointments involved in breaking into country music, but the scenes are fresh and the emotions feel real in Peter Bogdanovich's music-laden, mixed-mood drama. To have any kind of B.O. chance against bigger-name entries, film would need a special push. Limited release in mostly rural areas won't help.

With:
James Wright ... River Phoenix Miranda Presley ... Samantha Mathis Kyle Davidson ... Dermot Mulroney Linda Lue Linden ... Sandra Bullock Lucy ... K.T. Oslin Billy ... Anthony Clark Ned ... Webb Wilder Floyd ... Earl Poole Ball Trisha Yearwood ... Herself

Afairly typical tale of young talent on the rise in Nashville is given nicely nuanced treatment in “The Thing Called Love.” There’s not much new to say about the determination and disappointments involved in breaking into country music, but the scenes are fresh and the emotions feel real in Peter Bogdanovich’s music-laden, mixed-mood drama. To have any kind of B.O. chance against bigger-name entries, film would need a special push. Limited release in mostly rural areas won’t help.

Debuting screenwriter Carol Heikkinen’s story seems familiar from the outset, as cute aspiring singer-songwriter Miranda Presley (Samantha Mathis) Greyhounds from New York City to Nashville in search of her dream.

She takes a waitress job at the Bluebird Cafe when her first audition at its “open mike night” doesn’t land her a gig and shortly moves in with the buoyantly untalented Linda Lue Linden (Sandra Bullock). Miranda attracts the attention of the moody, gifted James Wright (River Phoenix) and soulful Kyle Davidson (Dermot Mulroney), who writes better than he sings.

Partial to writing alone in the diner across the road from her motel, Miranda can’t reciprocate Kyle’s earnest emotions. She is alternately tantalized and infuriated by James, but is ultimately drawn to him at a big country dance for which the romantically hopeful Kyle had been her date.

While Kyle’s jealousy is partly mollified when Trisha Yearwood records one of his tunes, Miranda and James head for Memphis to see Graceland but end up getting married in an oddball ceremony conducted at an all-night convenience store. Among the film’s most potent scenes are those detailing the quick unraveling of this immature relationship.

Refusing cloying sentimentality and reassurance, wrap-up pleasingly, and realistically, leaves all the main characters at different places on the road between success and failure, and only partly reconciled to their fates and each other. Even if it doesn’t present anything resembling a comprehensive view of the Nashville music scene, it very credibly enters into the mind sets of the struggling artists.

Brought on to replace another director on relatively short notice, Bogdanovich hasn’t been able to transcend such fundamental script problems as its predictability and the conventional, thinly conceived secondary characters. But, like good country songwriters and singers, he and his leading actors have been able to locate authentic emotion in a standard format. His staging, camera setups and cutting have a rare suppleness and fluidity.

Blonde, alert and game, Mathis nicely carries the picture, drawing the viewer in without pleading for sympathy. Phoenix sharply etches a self-styled, hard-to-reach tough guy who’s really a scaredy-cat, and Mulroney registers well as a sensitive Eastern cowboy.

Unfortunately, Bullock can’t do anything but hit familiar notes with her cheerful second banana role, and other supporting thesps are one-dimensional.

Tech contributions on the relatively low-budget production are all solid.

The Thing Called Love

(Country-music romantic drama -- Color)

Production: A Paramount release of a John Davis production. Produced by Davis. Executive producer, George Folsey Jr. Co-producer, Darlene K. Chan. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Screenplay, Carol Heikkinen.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Peter James; editor, Terry Stokes; music supervisor, G. Marq Roswell; executive music consultant, J. Steven Soles; production design, Michael Seymour; art direction, Thomas D. Wilkins; set decoration, Cloudia; costume design, Rita Riggs; sound (Dolby), James Edward Webb Jr.; associate producer, Steve Foley; assistant director, Jerry L. Ballew; casting, Dianne Crittenden. Reviewed at Paramount Studios, L.A., Aug. 23, 1993. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 116 min.

With: James Wright ... River Phoenix Miranda Presley ... Samantha Mathis Kyle Davidson ... Dermot Mulroney Linda Lue Linden ... Sandra Bullock Lucy ... K.T. Oslin Billy ... Anthony Clark Ned ... Webb Wilder Floyd ... Earl Poole Ball Trisha Yearwood ... Herself

More Film

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • Hache

    ‘Hache’ Creator, Director Discuss Netflix’s Next Spanish Original, Dropping Nov. 1

    MADRID — On Nov 1 Netflix will drop its fifth Spanish original series, 1960’s-set drug smuggling drama “Hache,” produced by Madrid’s Weekend Studio for the platform. Created by Verónica Fernández and directed by Jorge Torregrossa (“La vida inesperada,” “Cocaine Coast,” “Velvet Collection”), “Hache” tells the story of Helena (Adriana Ugarte), a prostitute who ends up [...]

  • Argentina Film Lab

    Argentina to Build Country’s First Film Restoration Laboratory in Buenos Aires

    Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuals (INCAA) and the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires will partner to build Argentina’s first laboratory of film preservation. Minister of Culture Enrique Avogadro and INCAA president Ralph Haiek signed the agreement which will see Buenos Aires’ Pablo Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in [...]

  • The-Ancient-Law

    Lumière Festival’s MIFC Broadens International Spotlight with Focus on Germany

    The 7th Lumière Film Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) is expanding its international scope this year with more foreign companies than ever before taking part in the event, high-profile guests and an examination of Germany’s heritage cinema sector. With 17 international firms from 25 countries at the event, the MIFC has reported a 20% [...]

  • US actor Donald Sutherland poses for

    Donald Sutherland Reflects in Lyon On A Life And Career Marked By Cinema

    In a loose and free-flowing on-stage interview held at the Lumière Festival this past Sunday, Donald Sutherland reflected on his decade-spanning career with a tone that mixed personal irreverence alongside genuine veneration for the art form that brought him this far. “I love filmmakers, I really do,” said the Canadian actor, who delighted the local [...]

  • Lucky Day

    Film Review: 'Lucky Day'

    It’s been 17 long years since “Rules of Attraction” director Roger Avary has released a film, during which time he was involved in a deadly car crash, charged with gross vehicle manslaughter, saw a work furlough translated into actual prison time, and watched things go south with Video Archives amigo Quentin Tarantino over the “Pulp [...]

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content