Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Stephen Farber

“As long as the movie re-creates the world of the coal miner's daughter, it is affecting and memorable. Once the film turns to the triumphs and trials of the singer, it becomes increasingly hollow. The filmmakers fail to find psychological perceptions that might have freshened one more star-is-born saga….

“If the film had shed light on the unconventional marriage of Loretta and Mooney, it might have surmounted the clichés of the show biz bio…. Coal Miner's Daughter leaves all the crucial questions unanswered.

“There's [another] major problem with the movie--Sissy Spacek's singing. Her voice is better than I expected; we have no trouble imagining her performing for a rapt coterie at the Palomino Club. But there's a huge difference between believing in Spacek as a competent country singer and believing in her as the most adored country singer of her generation. Spacek simply doesn't have the electrifying presence of a musical superstar. The filmmakers must have sensed they had a problem, for there isn't much music in the movie; we hear only a few snatches of Loretta's hit songs. Music should be an essential part of the story, and we feel cheated by the flimsy repertoire.

“Apart from the musical scenes, Spacek gives a captivating performance. Her convincing depiction of a thirteen year old in the movie's early scenes is quite uncanny, and her innate warmth keeps the audience on her side throughout the film. The surprise is that Tommy Lee Jones is equally good….”

Stephen Farber
New West, March 24, 1980


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