by Jim Ridley
One of the big attractions at last year's Nashville Film Festival makes its way to Regal Green Hills again this weekend, which tells you all you need to know about the pace of contemporary film distribution. It's The Last Ride, written by a pair of screenwriters with strong Nashville roots, Dub Cornett and Howie Klausner. Here's what we wrote when the film played the 2011 NaFF:
A good-natured small-town grease monkey accepts a job driving a baby-blue Cadillac and its mysterious owner to West Virginia — unaware that his cowboy-hatted, whiskey-slugging employer is none other than Hank Williams, en route to his fateful 1953 New Year's rendezvous with his maker. It's a great idea, rendered with impressive low-budget period detail, but director Harry Thomason's drama stubbornly refuses to catch fire: It's way too genial and respectful, and although E.T./Gangs of New York actor Henry Thomas captures the crabby, physically ill side of the doomed country great, it's not the kind of performance or character conception that makes for interesting company on a long ride — which may well reflect the truth. Most of the life comes from the supporting players: Fred Dalton Thompson, Ray McKinnon, James Hampton, and as a honky-tonk owner, Rick Dial, a character actor who's improved every movie he's ever appeared in, including this one.
Producer and composer Benjy Gaither will be on hand tonight for a Q&A.