Small Towns On The Big Screen

Jan 2 2013 @ 8:58am

Good depictions of small-town life are underrepresented in the arts, according to Terry Teachout:

"Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is usually Judas who writes the biography," said Oscar Wilde. I've noticed something similar when it comes to fictional treatments of small-town life in America, most of which are the work of bright, embittered émigrés who couldn't wait to grow up, move to the big city, and write novels, most of them bad, about how much they hated their childhoods. …

For the most part, you have to look to films, not novels, to get a clear sense of small-town life, and it's surprising–or maybe not–how few of the ostensibly serious ones hit the mark at all squarely. By far the most convincing cinematic portrayal of a small town that I know is Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count on Me, a modest little masterpiece that gets absolutely everything right. Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show comes close, but it's too harsh to be entirely persuasive, at least to me.