Coal Miner’s Daughter (Apted, 1980)

Coal Miner’s Daughter (Michael Apted, 1980)

Doesn’t stray too far from the typical rags to riches biopic format, but when it does, it does it very well. Apted’s extended focus on the rags portion of Loretta’s life is great. We see her living in poverty as a young teenager, then with a husband she may or may not love (and who may or may not love her), and as they attempt to kick start her career as a musician. Their small-town America lifestyle is presented in true rural fashion and gives a real glimpse into the background to much of Loretta’s music. And their relationship is ever rocky from their first night as newlyweds that is immediately followed by (a then 13-year old) Loretta walking back to her parents house with an ‘aw shucks’ shrug of the shoulders after being kicked out. But despite their oddities, they stay together and he makes her passion for music his own by pushing her (mostly in a positive way, though somewhat selfishly) out of her comfort zone towards success. When her career does take off, though, the movie falls flat, becoming extremely rushed and giving in to many music biopic cliches. It isn’t until later in life as Loretta and her husband stand in a clearing in the woods arguing over how to build a new house, that we again feel the realism and character that makes the first half a success.  7.5/10

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