Pure Country

In Pure Country, George Strait stars as Dusty Chandler – a country-music superstar who literally walks away from his expensive tour to spend some time in his old hometown. There, Dusty reconnects with his beloved grandmother (Molly McClure’s Ivy) and meets (and falls for) a local horse rancher (Isabel Glasser’s Harley Tucker) – with Dusty’s happiness eventually threatened by the arrival of his pushy manager (Lesley Ann Warren’s Lula) and an ambitious would-be singer (Kyle Chandler’s Buddy Jackson). Before any of the plot kicks in, however, Pure Country opens with a solid 20 minutes of Dusty’s music – which initially lends the proceedings the feel of a filmed concert. (The songs are pretty decent, admittedly, yet it’s impossible not to wish filmmaker Christopher Cain would just get on with it already). The movie subsequently does improve substantially once the plot kicks in, with the inherently compelling nature of the premise inevitably compensating for the overly deliberate pace and Strait’s heartfelt yet far-from-accomplished performance. The romantic subplot between Strait and Glasser’s respective characters goes a long way towards perpetuating the movie’s affable atmosphere, and although the couple’s fake break-up is especially egregious and needless, Pure Country does recover for an unexpectedly touching finale that ensures the film concludes on a high note. (There is, however, no denying that the movie is often too slow for its own good, which cements the feeling that the whole thing would’ve benefited from another pass through the editing bay.)

*** out of ****

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