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GEORGE & TAMMY (2022, USA) – 7/10

Watching the mini-series about the tumultuous romance of the king and queen of country music, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, I found myself thinking that at the same time as the rock revolution was taking place in a good part of the world, a completely different scene was developing parallely in the interior of America. And while young people on the east and west coast of America and in big inland cities like Chicago or Detroit witnessed the rock’n’roll explosion, the madness didn’t even touch those passive regions. Country was the only music that existed there, and practically at the same time it flourished and country stars in America at that time probably had a greater status of gods than rock stars.

The status of country god was achieved by George Jones in the fifties, but the wild, drunken and angry hillbilly with a guitar in the late sixties and early seventies was completely overshadowed by his third wife, Tammy Wynette. And while that raw material from Texas was embodied by Michael Shannon, the gentle and petite woman from Mississippi who completely bewitched him and for whom he was also the third husband is Jessica Chastain. The series was created by Abe Sylvia based on the biography of his parents by Georgette Jones, while all six episodes were directed by the Australian John Hillcoat (Proposition, The Road, Lawless), who before he started working in film, recorded music videos for many famous musicians.

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I’ve always looked at American country music as a counterpart to our folk music, as primitive, easy-to-understand music receptive to the masses who can identify with what they hear. One of the most famous examples of country music is Tammy Wynette’s song “Stand By Your Man” in which she sings about being loyal and faithful to her man and loving him no matter how bad he is to her, and we will see in this six-part series that Tammy really decided to apply that recipe in her own life, at least to a certain extent. The story develops linearly, and right from the start, George is a big star, but a difficult guy, a self-destructive alcoholic, while Tammy is just making her way on the scene, with her second husband, who mostly writes her songs.

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As in any true fairy tale, as soon as George sees her, he will fall passionately in love, while she is in love with him even before she met him, and this true Wild West Love Story will begin with George literally kidnapping her from her previous husband . And everything will seem idyllic, until she realizes that he is a completely wild, aggressive drunk who turns into a crazed maniac when he kills himself in a drunken stupor. However, she will decide to stand by her man anyway, no matter how much he thrashes, chases drunk with a gun in his hands and everything that those American crooks do when they have a good shot of whiskey. Of course, Tammy will not be able to endure this masochism to the end, and regardless of the fact that it is clear to us that the two love each other endlessly and that it is one of those movie romances, the real question is whether this love can survive.

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Since this is a series about country musicians, we also have a lot of live performances, and both Chastain and Shannon sang all the songs themselves. So even though both main actors are excellent and although the time period and circumstances are brilliantly, realistically, and yet somewhat stylized, this series still got on my nerves a bit, partly because it is a bit repetitive. Although everything we see here very likely played out like that or very similarly, the glorification of a romance in which a conservative wife babysits a drunken husband while he is in an alcoholic delirium is somewhat incomprehensible to me. And she believes that he will change and that something like this will not happen again, although by the end Tammy will still wise up, while the relationship with George will not only cost her health, but will certainly shorten her life.

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