A long-running live radio show is in danger of being canceled by new owners of the company that holds both radio station “WLT” and the theater where the show is broadcast. The film takes place on the night of the show’s last performance.
The show has two visitors: an angel calling herself Asphodel (Virginia Madsen) comes to comfort the people who work on the show and to escort one of them to the afterlife, while the Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones), a representative of the new owners, arrives to judge whether the show should be canceled. He makes it clear that the show is not what he considers modern popular programming, and though he too is escorted by the angel, the show is shut down anyway.
In an epilogue at the end of the film the former cast members are reunited at Mickey’s Diner. Their conversation pauses as they are joined by Asphodel, leaving the implication that she has arrived for another (or others) of their number.
A Prairie Home Companion is a lovely film about death, and with some great bad jokes. Death and how we deal with it drifts through the film like a dream, but it turns out to be real. Word has gotten around that the 30-year-old radio program is giving its last show.
The theater where it has been broadcast from all these years has been sold and will be turned into a parking lot. A woman in a white trench coat moves dream-like through the place, searching for a person whose time has come, and then finds him. And then she finds another. Memories of past successes are talked about, but sometimes not.
Director: Robert Altman
Year of Release: 2006
Character to watch: Meryl Streep as Yolanda Johnson.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?