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Tribeca Review: Tennessee

Here's the good thing I can say about Tennessee: The effort behind the film is commendable. "A" for effort. "D" for most everything else. And you know, I wasn't altogether convinced that it would be a terrible movie simply because Mariah Carey was in it. I wanted to give Tennessee the benefit of the doubt, so I did, but now I just want those 95 minutes of my life back.

On paper, maybe a touching drama about road trips and brotherly love looked like cinematic gold. And some of the shots of bronzey Southwest sunsets are quite striking. But that's where the "pros" of this movie end. You know how sometimes a series of slow and quiet scenes can be evocative, tense and rich? Not so much here. In this case it just makes for an incredibly flat, boring film. The story comes out lackluster and cliché, and none of it is helped by Mariah Carey's mumbling, careless shrug of a performance. It’s not even worth it to go into the details of the plot, really, but still,


Two brothers in New Mexico, one abusive dad in Tennessee. When one brother learns he has leukemia, the two men set off to find their dad, hoping for a match for a bone marrow transplant. The car breaks down, a sad waitress/aspiring singer quickly decides to leave her abusive husband and drives the brothers as far as Nashville. From there, some absurd, melodramatic "twists" take place before the inevitable ending.

At one point I wrote "Crossroads" in my notes because parts of this film strongly reminded me of that road trip thing Britney Spears did in 2002. Tennessee is certainly just as frustrating and just as cringe-inducing (really, there's a singer-songwriter competition with a first-place prize of exactly the amount of money they need?! I wonder what's going to happen!). But the worst thing of all is that Tennessee is also trying so hard to be poignant, it ends up being simply pitiable.


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