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Following a passion for country music, Ralph leaves his father's sheep farm in a remote Australian town, armed with a guitar and a plane ticket to Nashville, Tennessee. He hopes to hitchhike to Sydney Airport where his take-off into a successful country/western singing career will hopefully begin. However, fate and his naivety find him hitchhiking with a psychotic drug thief named Boyd, and Boyd's mesmerising girlfriend, Patsy. Written by
A Sweet Musical Satire of Country - both the Australian Bush and Nashville
It's too bad that the sweet little "Doing Time For Patsy Cline" only finally got commercial release in the U.S. in 2006, because its premise has gotten a bit dated in a post-Keith Urban/Jamie O'Neal world where Aussies have now taken Nashville by storm. It's not that crazy a fantasy for a kid to dream of getting from the bush to Music City.
The structure of the film musically turns around two parallel road movies, one a picaresque tour of the back roads of a northern New South Wales peopled with eccentric characters, and the other a fantasy "Wizard of Oz"-like imagining them all as alter-egos seeking fame and fortune in country music, intentionally mimicking Johnny Cash's bio (as later more seriously filmed in "Walk the Line").
The fantasy scenes are amusing satires of country music's rags to riches stereotypes of singers, managers and performances. But even the reality scenes are amusing satires of country bumpkins vs. Sydney sophisticates, salt of the earth station families vs. drug dealers. The prison blues jokes do get a bit repetitive as the film goes on a bit too long in going through every jail and jail music cliché.
Matt Day is personable and cute as "Ralph", the central kid with a guitar, a song and a dream, and his dreams are adorable. But the film is pretty much stolen by the scheming couple who pick him up as a hitchhiker, particularly motormouth Richard Roxburgh as "Boyd" who gets surprisingly more appealing and human as the film goes on. Miranda Otto as the object of their affections does Marilyn Monroe-like wide-eyed sexy yet somehow innocent very nicely, and has a surprisingly nice singing voice.
The song selections are a lovely mix of originals by the other Peter Best, covers of country classics and non-commercial country selections, such as by Emmy Lou Harris.
This film is like a country version of "Rock Follies", the British miniseries that satirized rock 'n ' roll fantasies.
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