Noble Things Marks the Big Screen Debut of Tracy Byrd, Lee Ann Womack
Country music has had its fair share of film adaptations, most of which either focus on hokey stereotypes or highlight the music at the expense of character. Noble Things, which made its Music City premiere last weekend at the Nashville Film Festival, follows the story of a country music wash-up by the name of Jimmy Wayne Collins (no, this is not a biographical film on the “I Will” singer), does neither–and is far better off for it.
In Noble Things, co-writer, producer and lead actor Brett Moses portrays Collins, a one-hit wonder hitchhiking his way back home from Nashville to visit his ailing father, the sheriff of a tiny East Texas town. Along his journey, the film reveals bits and pieces of Collins’ troubled past. And when he reaches home, the singer’s true demons begin to surface.
Right after Collins gets his record deal and is invited on tour with Ronnie Coleman (played by Tracy Byrd), he finds himself in a skirmish with a rogue group of roughneck country boys. They agree to take things outside and the situation quickly turns ugly. An epic, rural-tinted 300 mock ensues as Collins’ boys take on the roughnecks during a wicked thunderstorm. In the thick of it all, Collins ends up drowning a knife-wielding opponent in self-defense. But Kyle, Jimmy’s brother, decides to take the blame for the death in order for Collins to continue pursing his new career.
All of this is reported at Collins makes his way back to his old hometown–at points reuniting with a long lost love, meeting up with the old group of boys and visiting his brother in prison. Ultimately, Collins becomes so overcome with guilt from the incident–especially since his music career never panned out–that he tries to set things straight in a shocking, if not unusual, ending.
The other main draw of this film is the big screen debut of Lee Ann Womack, who plays a female deputy that ultimately becomes sheriff after Collins’ father gets sick. Womack does a solid job in the supporting role, balancing a nice mix between sensitivity and sternness. It’s no surprise that she makes the transition to the big screen look seamless.
But the main feature here is the talent of Moses himself. The script is well-written, the cinematography is engaging, and the plot provides ample space for its characters to grow. The movie’s soundtrack is also a highlight–featuring numbers from Byrd, Clay Walker, and others.
After the film aired at the NaFF, Moses and others took questions from the audience. Moses made it clear that there had been quite a few films about the great music out of East Texas, but that he wanted to focus not on the music of Collins—but on the values of family, and how one lie can tear a person down.
Overall, Noble Things feels authentic. It’s not a groundbreaking masterpiece, nor is it entirely devoid of stereotypes, but it is an enjoyable, compelling and at times touching film.
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