Along with the forgotten Tom Cruise movie ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, this is one of the few credible, condescension-free Hollywood movies of its time about life in an American backwater. Notable for the way it elides or downplays all the big dramatic moments: the courtship, the marriage, the death, the comeback of its country music legend. Beresford's no genius, but with congenial script he's better than competent.
If you hate Paris, Texas (like I do), then you'll love this sublime variation, which features an actual script, story, and reason for being. Robert Duvall earns his Oscar with a simple, stoic performance, and damn near everyone involved seems to be awed by the simple "values" they keep circling around. Moral: you can't trust happiness.
Keep in mind, this was 1983, the time of the FX Summer blockbuster. This film, so bare, spare, gentle; so void of everything a lesser film would rely on, it's revolutionary in its simplicity. Lean, fat-free, story telling. It's what the story doesn't show or rely on that makes it the great film it MOST certainly is.
the episodic structure keeps the film from having any kind of real payoff. At times it feels like 10 minutes of the film were randomly excised which does little but impede character development. Still, with the brilliant acting and music, a seriously terrific film.