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Sweet Dreams
USA 1985
Directed by Karel Reisz
Running time 115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


On one level this Patsy Cline biopic can be seen as retread of the 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic, Coal Miner’s Daughter in which Cline, convincingly played by Beverly D'Angelo, featured prominently.  Here Jessica Lange takes over the role but the narrative elements are pretty much the same – if not exactly poor, then humble, beginnings, the constant round of whistle-stops and county fairs, the success and, of course, the troubled relationship with the era-typical husband (Ed Harris).

Lange, who at this stage of her career specialized in playing fiercely independent women is in fine form (she was nominated for an Oscar but unlike Spacek with her portrayal of Lynn, did not win) as Cline, bringing home the burning desire and seam-bursting vitality of the woman yet also her vulnerability. She also expertly lip-synchs to Cline's own renditions of her hit songs such as ''I Fall to Pieces,'' ''Crazy,'' ''Blue Moon of Kentucky'' and ''Walking After Midnight''.

The production revels in the cars, the clothes and the music of the era and like the Lynn film gives more attention to Cline’s relationship with her husband than her musical talents which one suspects must have been considerable.  The result is a more of a well-honed formulaic biopic than a revelation but Lange was in the upper reaches of her career at the time and insofar as the film gives us a greater appreciation of its subject it can be counted a success.

 

 

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