‘George & Tammy’ Review: Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon Go Country

The ambitions of “George & Tammy,” a brand new restricted collection about two of the leisure trade’s true people, appear to be to duplicate one other present’s success.

In its construction and its considerations, the collection feels as if it owes a debt to “Fosse/Verdon,” FX’s wonderful 2019 collection about two inventive and romantic companions attempting to make love and artwork, collectively and aside. “George & Tammy,” like “Fosse/Verdon,” attracts on the recollections of its topics’ daughter; this new collection assays the life and work of nation singers George Jones and Tammy Wynette at varied key moments. However whereas it nails the basic music-biography beats, it could actually’t discover the spark or soul that characterizes the most effective nation songs.

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain play the celebrities right here; the collection begins with George as a longtime title, and Tammy searching for the break that may convey her out of obscurity. After an opportunity assembly, they’re drawn to 1 one other each as artists and as lovers, and Shannon and Chastain leverage their charisma to make the efficiency of their bond clear from the primary. The musical facet of issues is a more durable promote: Shannon acquits himself properly, however Chastain’s voice shouldn’t be one, maybe, that’s best-suited to the simultaneous delicacy and power of Wynette’s hits. (There’s greater than just a little of her different Tammy, the Oscar-winning function of Tammy Faye Bakker, within the combine right here.)

Nation music is all about storytelling, and Jones and Wynette lived the sort of lives that you would write a very unhappy track about, from the euphoric highs of lust and profession success to the painful lows of dependancy and well being struggles and marital strife. That makes it all of the extra confounding that there’s no transformative or transcendent side to this present’s run-through of the information of its central couple’s life. John Hillcoat, who directs, strikes the story at a considerably languid tempo: Again and again, an occasion occurs, and we sit with the most recent triumph or setback for a protracted second earlier than transferring on to the following factor. George and Tammy are individuals to whom an ideal deal occurred. However they lack the feel of fantastic characters.

The collection, the debut episode of which is to air on Showtime and the Paramount Community, makes for a red-state double function with “Yellowstone,” which is able to lead into it on Paramount. And it appears to be drawing on the title recognition of topics and stars each. The basic factor that turns mediocre-or-worse tasks like “Bohemian Rhapsody” into smashes is in proof right here: If you wish to spend six hours watching two film stars singing nice songs, you’re in luck. (No nation aficionado myself, I discovered myself searching for out Tammy Wynette’s music between episodes.) However what’s missing right here, the factor “Fosse/Verdon” drew out of Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as they crafted a similar-on-the-surface dance of affection and hate, is a way of why the story being advised issues, to the broader world and even to the individuals on display screen.

“George & Tammy” will premiere concurrently on Showtime and the Paramount Community on Sunday, December 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The rest of the season will probably be out there solely on Showtime, with new episodes streaming Fridays and airing Sundays at 9 p.m.