COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER

Director Michael Apted
Year 1980
Starring Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Phyllis Boyens, Bill Anderson Jr.
Rating PG
Run Time 125min
Age Policy

18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with a parent guardian. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed.

More Info IMDb

This screening is part of our November celebration of Tough Ladies in Cinema!

“I done wrote me a song Betty Sue. Your mama’s a dadgum songwriter now.”

Before the music, the big hair, the legend Loretta Lynn (Sissy Spacek) was just a regular ol’ Kentucky hillbilly and proud of it! COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, based off Lynn’s own autobiography, is an amazingly honest, warts-and-all story of one of country music’s most heralded singer-songwriters. And Spacek makes Lynn one of the best examples of a strong woman in American film.

Director Michael Apted’s portrait of Lynn covers her life from her teenage years in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky helping raise her little brothers and sisters to her eventual rise to superstardom. In between we focus and are given a multi-faceted view into her complicated marriage to Doolittle Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones). A courtship that moves her away from her bluegrass hometown and, in the process, quietly breaks the heart of her father (Levon Helm).

Doolittle loves Loretta, but is still a drunk and womanizer who can’t fully appreciate his wife. For one decision, though, his love wins over all his flaws and he supports Loretta to try and become a country singer. And it’s this initial push that moves Loretta from domestic housewife to national star.

Unlike most biopics, COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER works because of its lack of forced melodrama and big moments. Apted wisely makes the simplicity of his two leads juxtapose the massive success Loretta attains to make us understand the improbability of Loretta’s journey. By the time she meets the great Patsy Cline (Beverly D’Angelo) we share her awestruck expression at her lightning fast rise to the top.

It doesn’t hurt that Spacek delivers a career-defining, Academy Award-winning performance as the no nonsense, tough as nails Loretta and Jones is perfect in the underappreciated, complex role of Doolittle.

But the main reason COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER is such an emotional triumph is its authenticity from it’s beautiful photography of the dead end, but gorgeous town of Butcher Hollow to Spacek and D’Angelo’s choice to do all their own singing. When most biopics are sugar-coated or overly dramatic, this one is neither. The film earns its emotional payoffs, both high and low, because of its as honest and direct as Loretta herself. (R.J. LaForce)

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