'George & Tammy' is a cautionary love story with good songsgeneral

'George & Tammy' is a cautionary love story with good songs

I must admit that as much as I love the classic recordings of country music king and queen George Jones and Tammy Wynette -- a whole damn lot -- my first thought on learning that they would be the subjects of a double biopic was to wonder whether its creator would be hip enough to include "Justified & Ancient," a.k.a. "Stand by the Jams," Wynette's collaboration with British art-dance group the KLF. And so he does (even using the title for the final episode), if with a bit of a superior attitude. (I also love that track a whole damn lot.) "George & Tammy," which premieres Sunday on Showtime, stars Jessica Chastain as Tammy and Michael Shannon as George. Written by Abe Sylvia (who also wrote the Chastain feature "The Eyes of Tammy Faye") with daughter Georgette Jones' "The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George" as the optioned source material, the limited series keeps the focus on the years when the two were in and out of each other's lives. As biopics go, "George & Tammy" is better than most, beautifully acted, nicely filmed, full of music and not lacking for crazy, infamous events. (The Driving a Tractor to Get a Drink Scene, George Taking a Shot at reformed drinking partner Earl "Peanutt" Montgomery, played by Walton Goggins -- they're here and much more.) But a series that claims to represent real historical events can lead one to wonder, distractedly, what truly happened and what was embellished or didn't happen at all. Given that, it may be best to regard the whole thing as fiction, which it inescapably is.

Los Angeles Times