Despite some clever moments and a spunky performance by Meredith Hamilton, this film was doomed to failure by disjointed scripting and direction. It was such a structural mess that one can almost sense the editor's panic as he scrambled to establish some sort of order and flow to scene after scene that neither ended nor built towards a plot development or theme of consequence. The repetitive episodic structure of our heroine experiencing some frustration or tragedy and immediately retiring to her room to mumble lyrics and stumble over chords (to what, not incidentally, sound like really bad, adolescent songs) was tiresome the second time through, let alone after the seventh or eighth time. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", sung about five times during the film, was Twain's through line, but that emotion could as easily represent the mental state of the bewildered viewer.
A particular black hole sucking the dramatic life out of the film was writer Shelley Eriksen's pen paralysis when it came to romance. While we often find films side-tracked by the paradox of the needless, requisite love interest, it's clear that Twain's music and persona are, curiously, as much about the importance of love and family as feminism and ambition, so getting these relationships into frame is certainly germane. Puzzlement, however, pretty much defines the response of the viewer to any of the relationships depicted here, whether the unexplained marital difficulties of her parents or Twain's own serial lovers, who drop from sight so peremptorily one can be forgiven for suspecting that it was because the actors were on one day contracts.
Megan Follows must have wondered how she got involved in this project, though truth to tell, she has some awkward moments herself in a generally solid performance. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, though - the script is so underwritten that several fine actors struggle to bridge the gap between their characters and the meagre words left to them. However, Jerry Ciccoritti's toneless direction is as much to blame; scenes are emotionally flat either through the confusion of the actors left to sort through this mess themselves or Ciccoritti's inability to convey a sense of where and how he felt the scenes must progress.
Twain has a classic rags to riches and country heartache story to tell (cranked up a notch since this film's release by her recent split from producer/husband Mutt Lange). I hope somebody sees the potential and has the wherewithal to enlist Twain's aid in getting it right.
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