Shut Up and Sing
Cecilia Peck and Barbara Kopple’s auspiciously timed chronicle charts the Dixie Chicks’ development since frontwoman Natalie Maines shared her shame of George W. Bush with a London theater crowd in 2003. A spry examination of American entitlement and the earning of celebrity, the movie couldn’t invent more compelling characters than its reluctantly radicalized country-music trio of girls next door. Maines and bandmates Emily Robison and Martie Maguire feel the rapport with their audience, fraught with mutual betrayal, shift from chrysalis to crucible. It’s an allegorical loss of innocence, to which the film is commendably sensitive. With support from dedicated handlers, husbands, backup players and each other, the band reels and readjusts to each febrile wave of former fan-base backlash, worrying together over death threats, writing songs in response and weathering the vicissitudes of artistry, commerce and politics to forge a deeper fellowship. It’s quite something to see, and to hear.