Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

Michael Apted directs Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones and Beverly D’Angelo in the musical biopic of Loretta Lynn. 

The rags to riches form of this life story might go through what we now consider “the motions” but it does so with a lot of grit and charm. One benefit it has over its antecedents is we spend a long old time getting to know Loretta Webb, child bride born into sheltered poverty, before she even shows signs of becoming Loretta Lynn the country superstar. Her rise to fame almost feels like an accidental by-product of the chaotic but affectionate marriage she has with Tommy Lee Jones’ Mooney Doo. And though this romance takes in rough patches of infidelity, assaults, pill popping and bruised male ego, Apted is generous enough to tell the tragedy with a lack of terminal judgement, never making an easy monster of the ne’er do well lad. Their tumultuous relationship is told with such unvarnished frankness and warm humour you forgive him his transgressions because he is presented as just as fragile a human as our eponymous hero. Sissy Spacek is superb here, ably supported by a smaller but powerfully seductive turn by Beverly D’Angelo as Patsy Cline.

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