Tennessee (2008) Poster

(2008)

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7/10
pleasantly surprised by the quality of this emotional film...
thien3146 February 2010
i had no expectations about this film and i knew very little about it. all i knew of it was that it was a slow-paced melodrama about a cross-country journey. so with that in mind, the end result was quite pleasing as the film is actually a good quality film. even though there are some areas of the film that can be worked on- the beginning being a tad bit fast, the end being a bit slow, and the fact that some scenes weren't developed enough to make you fully comprehend the characters' emotions- the film itself worked well enough to draw you in. this is a pretty sad film that has a great message behind it. it kind of hits you and makes you think about life and enjoying it while you can. also, the acting was pretty good. believe it or not, mariah carey actually made the film a lot more interesting to watch, and she proved she can act in some way. put behind her 'glitter' debacle and you'll see some pretty good performances from her. overall, i liked it better than it thought i would, and i would watch it again.
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10/10
A beautiful painting
kerrigand-130 April 2008
I saw this flick at its premiere and liken it to a piece of art. The more I watched, the more I saw--gorgeous cinematography, soulful writing, and wonderful performances by actors all around. I think that it speaks to a more sophisticated audience with its depth of focus on relationships, particularly between the two brothers. If you see the movie only for Mariah, you'll be pleased with her performance--low-key and genuine; still, you'll be impressed with the work of the other actors, each one unique and well-cast. The movie is more lyrical than loud, and I mean that in the best possible sense. I dare you to watch it without being moved. What a sweet debut for the screenwriter Russell Schaumburg. Congratulations from a fan.
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7/10
Lively Performances and Landscape carry this Scant Film!
hb-boyd27 April 2008
I urge everyone reading this to NOT listen to reviews written by Mariah haters who want nothing more than to hate this film or people who clearly haven't seen it. I watched the film tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival and enjoyed it. While this movie is about two brothers, it's really the role of Krystal that steals the film. It just so happens to be Mariah Carey's role but if any other actress were playing it I'd probably say the same. Mariah doesn't look lost and confused here as she did in Glitter. Here she's fully confident and it shows. It does help that her character seems to be the only one in the entire film to be fully thought out. The Krystal role really brightens up the screen and comes along at just the right point to move the story along - without her I don't think I'd recommend the film as much.

After the film was over the writer spoke to us about intentionally writing little dialogue so that the actors were allowed to bring their character to life on their own terms. However, it felt at times like the film was too silent and lacked dialogue in important places towards the beginning where the brothers appear at a lost for words because there were simply no lines written. Also, it's hard understanding the relationship between the two brothers and their father without adequate back story. I would have liked to know a little more about how the father came to be the way he was - the few flashbacks did not help explain it. But on another positive note, like an audience member pointed out the film does have a beautiful landscape. The scenery featured throughout include various mountains, valleys and day/evening aerial shots which brought life to the overall picture. I don't recall much of a soundtrack but the one Mariah song was clearly a throwaway from her songbook, which may have been intentional since we're to believe she's an amateur just starting out on her journey to stardom. In conclusion, I'd say the actors all did a fine job with the script they were given and put their best foot forward. However, I think it'd be fair to state that this could have been a much better film with stronger dialogue and better direction.
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9/10
'Just take a picture of the mountain'
gradyharp28 December 2010
TENNESSEE is a minimalist film: there is very little dialogue, not a lot of movement, not a huge climax. It just happens and while it is happening it changes you. Though it is a small budget film it makes a big impact, making us wish that there were more films like this to counterbalance all the big over the top bonanzas that seem to rule the theater circuit. It is gently written (by Russell Schaumburg), sensitive directed by Aaron Woodley, and acted with honesty by a fine young cast.

Ellis (Ethan Peck, definitely an actor on the rise) and Carter (Adam Rothenberg (ditto) are brothers; their mother is dead and their father has a history of abusing the boys to the point that Ellis and Carter no longer see him. Ellis is a photographer by hobby, taking photographs of mountains and landscapes in their Tennessee small town: Carter drinks too much but looks after his younger brother. Ellis is diagnosed as having leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant - Carter offers but despite being siblings the match is not adequate. The brothers set out on a trip to be together and end up in New Mexico. But soon they are on the road again and in Texas they pause at a diner where they meet Krystal (Mariah Carey) waiting tables, but preferring to write songs. Seeing that the brothers have no money, Krystal takes them home - she is married to an alcoholic Texas Ranger Frank (Lance Reddick) who routinely beats her and demands that the 'freeloaders' be gone in the morning. The next morning the three of them take the car and head to Tennessee - the boys have decided that Ellis' only hope is to find their father to see if he is a candidate to donate bone marrow. The three are chased by Frank until they finally reach Tennessee where, for need of cash, Krystal sings in a nightclub contest and captures the audience's approval while she now has money to give to the brothers to find their father.

How these disparate, desperate people come together emotionally and the manner in which the story ends may seem too pat for some, but for viewers with vulnerable hearts this little film will be fulfilling. Each of the cast is excellent, but it is such a pleasure to see Mariah Carey in a role that merits her talent and find that she handles it so well is rewarding. It is a small story with a huge heart.

Grady Harp
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9/10
Sweet little American indie
larry-41112 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Let it be said right from the start. Yes, "Tennessee" is a road movie with two guys and a girl. It's been done many times before. In fact, it was the third such film I saw in a 24-hour period here at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, where "Tennessee" had its World Premiere. And, yes, the girl is superstar diva Mariah Carey. But there's a big difference between what the film appears to be and what it actually is, which is a surprisingly sweet film that was totally satisfying.

Aaron Woodley's "Tennessee," directing from a Russell Schaumberg script, is one of those films with a plot that's difficult to even briefly summarize without revealing spoilers. Due to a tragic turn of events, brothers Carter (Adam Rothenberg) and Ellis Armstrong (Ethan Peck) embark on a journey from their trailer home outside Albuquerque, New Mexico to their hometown in Tennessee. In so doing, they must face a past they'd rather avoid. Along the way they meet up with a young would-be singer-songwriter (Carey) whose own dreams need some inspiration and support. The IMDb page has a comprehensive synopsis.

Although three people dominate the film, it's the young men who are the focus of the story, not the Mariah Carey character, a fact which will likely be lost on many who see the cast of the film without giving it a chance. Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck are the actors who carry this film with their powerful personalities. Carter (Rothenberg) is gruff, rough, tough, and downright dirty. He drinks and swears up a storm. In perfect contrast, younger brother Ellis (Ethan) is soft, sensitive, sweet, and tender, with his creativity demonstrated in his love for photography. It's hard to imagine anyone with a sibling, or even a close friend, who won't be able to relate to one or the other (or both).

The landscape of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Tennessee is so stunning that even the most inexperienced cinematographer would have had a hard time avoiding the beautiful vistas which help give the film its lush look. Here, in the hands of David Greene, "Tennessee" becomes a true travelogue, filled with jaw-dropping sunsets and breathtaking peaks. Of course, the fact that the film's protagonist is a photographer makes the visual style that much more appropriate. Natural and single-point lighting give the film a soft appearance. What Mariah Carey adds most to the storyline is her music, and the country soundtrack is perfectly in tune with the towns through which they travel.

The biggest surprise for me was that "Tennessee" is not as comedic as many films with even darker themes. The recent trend towards gallows humor, provoking nervous laughter in similar stories, isn't apparent here. There are more tears than laughter, and even when the film is trying to be light the result is more often a smile than a chuckle. It's touching nonetheless and not as depressing as the storyline would indicate.

It's a road movie that's poignant and touching with overplaying the genre to the point of sugary sweetness, as many do. There are enough twists and turns along the way to retain viewer interest even beyond the initial concept. The setup comes early but surprises abound. "Tennessee" is that sweet little American indie which is the elusive holy grail of film festivals.
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5/10
Painting?
BornInBigD19 February 2009
Kerrigand has exaggerated on the "beautiful painting" mumbo jumbo about this film. We saw it last night at a free screening north of Dallas. My man went with me and we both agreed: it was not a bad movie --in fact, I had VERY low expectations of Mariah Carey & co. and I was very surprised. She did a good job and the two brothers also did a good job with their characters. The acting was mostly pretty good (only a couple of scenes made me want to either hurl or giggle at the absurdity.. but many movies have a couple of scenes like this). Overall, good job.

The last 20 seconds of the movie was sub-par; I hope they change it before the release.

The main reason I was still disappointed with the film despite being pleasantly surprised by the acting was because it was a bit slow and I wasn't in the mood for a drama (I'm not usually in the mood for a drama, to be honest). And that's exactly what this is. So if you like'em a little emotional and slow (think Terms of Endearment but not quite as funny), you'll probably enjoy the movie. But if you prefer action or comedy, spare yourself.
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3/10
Moody study of unfulfilled lives is in itself unsatisfying as a dramatic film...
moonspinner5524 December 2010
Several years after fleeing their abusive father--and then losing their mother and only guardian to an unnamed cause--two young brothers hit the road on their own, but one of them contracts an unspecified disease requiring a bone marrow transplant. Stark, sketchy, turgid drama...tailor-made for indie film festivals as the writing is deliberately obtuse, the characters hopeless, and the landscapes barren and lonesome. Still, an arch phoniness renders the project unconvincing--and the characters uninteresting. Mariah Carey pops up as a put-upon truck stop waitress whose dream is to become a songwriter; changing the focus of the narrative almost instantly upon her arrival, Carey's working girl seems an unlikely fit for the troubled siblings, though at least she provides some quiet sparkle to the otherwise dour proceedings. *1/2 from ****
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4/10
Slow
phd_travel11 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The story starts out quite interestingly with a brother's cross country road trip search search for a bone marrow from an estranged abusive father for his sick younger brother. They meet a kind waitress who is in a slightly abusive relationship. Mariah Carey stars and sings one not too spectacular song. Mariah is a bit The brothers are played by Ethan Peck and Adam Rothenberg. Mariah's husband is a scary cop who comes after her but unpredictably things turn out okay for her.

It isn't a sentimental tale, but you want to see what happens.

Strangely the whole movie is filmed with an orange filter. The scenes progress slowly - could have been sped up.

The ending has a poignant little twist. Wish there had been a bit more shown at the end.
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10/10
Dusty Dukatz - Production Supervisor
newmexicocasting12 December 2009
Under the direction of Dusty Dukatz the magic of this film comes to life.

Many times when a person from the general public goes to see a film, they never take into account the reason why it is as good as it is to view. Well the reason is not only the story line from the writers perspective but the people behind the making of it as well.

In the case of "Tennessee", I had the opportunity to be there while Dusty Dukatz spun his magic in directing certain scenes in this production.

Many times during the days I was able to witness Mr. Dukatz and his expertise; I saw a determined individual with a huge responsibility put together a crew of professionals along with actors and the background extras to make each scene come off without additional retakes.

Dusty's genius in putting action to film is amazing. I hope in the near future more film producers and production companies realize Dustys huge talent in helping make the magic of film become completed as the final product for the coveted viewing audiences.

Just as Mr. Wayne Newton has the title of "Mr. Las Vegas" Dusty Dukatz should retain the title of "Mr. Magic" because of his knowledge and experience in creating a movie. Great job Dusty looking forward to working with you again.

-New Mexico Casting-
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