Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 100 minutes
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“The Portrait of Billy Joe” is a documentary “portrait” of Country music legend Billy Joe Shaver. A man who has undoubtedly had one of the roughest lives a person can have and still refuses to give up his passion of making music.
Early on in this film, Shaver admits the dreams of being a star have been gone for many, many years. The guy is over 70 years old and has had to endure the death of his wife (whom he remarried three different times) and his extremely talented son, Eddy Shaver, who died of a drug overdose just a few years ago. Yet very few times in this film do we feel sorry for Shaver. With a sharp wit and hysterical way of spinning a yarn, he just keeps on keepin’ on.
As a somewhat lesser known member of the Outlaw Country movement of the late 1970’s, Shaver rode with the likes of Waylon, Willie, Merle and Johnny Cash. Although the film never specifies, we tend to get the idea that Shaver was more of an outlaw than the rest of them and that his own personal demons may have kept him from being the star that many of his close associates became. Whatever the reason, it certainly isn’t from lack of talent and songwriting brilliance.
“The Portrait of Billy Joe” does a nice job of showing a man in the twilight of his life and career. Yet we also see he’s made peace with all the horrible things that have happened to him (and there’s a ton of them!) and he has successfully put his life in the hands of a higher power. This is an important film as Billy Joe Shaver is quite a character and when he’s gone, there won’t be any more like him. It’s good to have this portrait to remember him by.
Posted on September 22, 2004 in Reviews by Don R. Lewis
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