Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)
 
 

Loretta's Real Rags to Riches Story

Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones in Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

As a child Loretta Webb (Sissy Spacek) helped around the house, looking after her siblings and bringing coal home in a cart from the mine where her father worked. But then at the age of 15 and after a short courtship Loretta became Loretta Lynn after marrying Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) and soon after that fell pregnant with the first of six children. When on their 5th anniversary Doolittle gave Loretta a guitar it started something big when she went from playing in a local Honky Tonk to performing at Grand Ole Opry which led to a close friendship with Patsy Cline (Beverly D'Angelo). But musical success came with its problems from Doolittle struggling to live in his wife's shadow to Loretta feeling a need to be constantly performing to stay in the public's eye taking a toll on her.

Before sitting down to watch "Coal Miner's Daughter" I am pretty sure I had never even heard the name Loretta Lynn let alone heard one of her songs but as a sucker for biopics especially those which are a tale of rags to riches I watched. And I watched and watched and when the "Coal Miner's Daughter" finished I watched again because this biopic was not only entertaining but a warts and all production which didn't hold back when it came to the dirt as it did the glory.

Now due to my admitted ignorance of Loretta Lynn I can't say how authentic "Coal Miner's Daughter" is when it comes to the narrative or the performances but not only does it have that element of grit it also features a captivating Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Watching Spacek play the young Loretta as a teenager you would believe she was a teen and not a 30 year old actress but watching Spacek perform and sing you would also think you were not watching an actress but a musician. It is such a convincing performance that when Loretta is permanently touring out of a need to stay in the public eye you can understand why as Spacek has established that through her performance.

Tommy Lee Jones is just as convincing even if the blonde hair is shocking. The way he plays Doolittle as a man who begins to feel pointless when Loretta's career takes off is more than just the cliche of a jealous man as he gets across that need to be doing something rather than tagging along. But the chemistry between Spacek and Jones is spot on as whilst we learn of his infidelity and we see the rows and violence we also understand that their love for each other was deep.

Now I could go on because from start to finish "Coal Miner's Daughter" is captivating. The scenes up at the coal mine where Loretta's father worked felt real whilst Beverly D'Angelo was just as convincing as Spacek when it came to performing and singing as Patsy Cline. As such a lot of praise must go to director Michael Apted who crams a lot in to this movie but never feels like he is skimming over the detail to get it all in.

What this all boils down to is that "Coal Miner's Daughter" is a fantastic biopic, most likely a crowd pleaser for fans of Loretta Lynn but just as entertaining for those who have never heard of her. My only criticism is that I wanted more and would have happily watched a 3 hour movie.

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