Biographical story of Loretta Lynn, a legendary country singer that came from poverty to worldwide fame. She rose from humble beginnings in Kentucky to superstardom and changing the sound and style of country music forever.
At only thirteen years of age, Loretta Webb marries Doolittle Lynn and is soon responsible for a sizeable family. Loretta appears destined to a life of homemaking, but Doolittle recognises his wife's musical talent, and buys her a guitar as an anniversary present one year. At eighteen, the mother of four children and busy housewife still finds time to write and sing songs at small fairs and local honky-tonks. This gift sets Loretta Lynn on the gruelling, tumultuous path to superstardom and country music greatness.Written by
Shannon Patrick Sullivan <email@example.com>
She was married at 13. She had four kids by the time she was 20. She's been hungry and poor. She's been loved and cheated on. She became a singer because it was the only thing she could do. She became a star because it was the only way she could do it.
From 13 year old bride, to becoming a Country Music Legend. A perfect biographical film.
Biographical films that are done right can be a thing of beauty. They can enlighten us by giving us perspective and insight into people that we may recognize by name but yet know little of the circumstances that have made up the fabric of their lives. And if the life they led is as fascinating as that of Loretta Lynn, they can also entertain us in the process.
Based on Lynn's autobiographical novel of the same name, Coal Miner's Daughter is easily one of the best films of this genre. It is the story of how Loretta Lynn became one of the most successful Country & Western vocalists in recording history despite having been raised in the poverty stricken hills of Butcher Holler, Kentucky, marrying at the age of 13, and having several children to boot.
The first half of Coal Miner's Daughter is a fascinating look at a life foreign to most of us. As the daughter of Ted Webb (Levon Helm) and Clara Webb (Phyllis Boyens), Loretta (Sissy Spacek)seems destined to live her life just as all who those who live in Butcher Holler eke out an existence. It seems predetermined that she will probably marry one day, that her husband will be a coal miner just as her own father is, and she will have a caboodle of young 'uns running around the hills barefoot. One day, on a trip into town with her father, Loretta meets the irrepressible Mooney Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) who has just come home form the service. It isn't long before Mooney convinces the 13 year. old Loretta that they are in love and need to be married. After convincing Ted and Clara to give their blessing, the wedding takes place, and although it isn't apparent for many years, it's a decision that will forever alter the course of her existence.
One of the reasons this film succeeds on the level that it does, is because Director Michael Apted never falls into the trap of making the film judgmental about many of the events that occur in Loretta's life. He let's the events of the film unfold naturally, and we either accept them for what they are or we don't. For instance, many Directors would have felt the need to implant some nefarious motive behind Mooney's relationship with Loretta. The events that happen in Loretta's childhood were what they were, and though letting a child of thirteen marry may be foreign to us, it was obviously something that may not have been extraordinary unusual back in Butcher Holler.
There is another reason why Coal Miner's Daughter succeeds on all levels. Sissy Spacek plays Loretta Lynn as if she were cloned from her. Not only is their resemblance strikingly uncanny, her speaking voice, her singing voice, her mannerisms will have you believing that it is Loretta herself starring in this film. As if this isn't enough, Spacek was required to play a character that starts out as a naive thirteen year old girl, and ends as an adult woman who suffers through many painful and tumultuous events in her life. Not an easy task at all, but it is the stuff for which actresses win Academy Awards, and Spacek certainly earned hers.
If Spacek's performance was exceptional, the rest of the cast would merely need to be adequate to make the film succeed, but they are every bit as impressive. Given the difficult role of playing Mooney, Tommy Lee Jones brings the character to life. While never making Mooney appear sympathetic, he does show us that Mooney is after all a human being, subject to the same foibles and temptations as the rest of us. Most of all, despite his failings, Jones lets us know that Mooney did indeed care a great deal for Loretta, even if such outward expressions of love were foreign to him.
There's more. Levon Helm as Ted Webb gives one of the best supporting performance ever in a film. As Ted, he gives us a father who cares deeply about his family, doing for them what he can with what little money he can scrape by on from his earning. He is a man who has obviously been beaten down by the drudgery and day to day existence of spending most of his life with a pick and a shovel mining coal. It is this existence that eventually forces Mooney into his decision to not become a victim of the coal mines.
Last but certainly not least, is Beverly D'Angelo as Patsy Cline, who not only befriends Loretta, but helps to teach her the ways of the world. Her performance is so good in fact, that although her scenes aren't many, D'Angelo leaves an indelible mark that made it difficult to accept Jessica Lange in the same role. I do not know why Jones, Helm, and D'Angelo were not recognized when Awards time rolled around as they were all at least deserving of a nomination if not a win. Perhaps Spacek's performance was so powerful that it overshadowed the fine work done by the rest of the cast. Then again, I quit trying to figure the reasoning behind awards a long time ago.
There is no doubt however, that Coal Miner's Daughter is one of the best biographical films ever. It is one of those rare times when cast, director, writer, all came together to make a very special film. And when they all do that I have no choice but to give them my grade which for Coal Miner's Daughter is an A+.
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