Review of Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

30 Jan

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) is a biography/drama/music film, that tells the story of the country music singer Loretta Lynn.

Directed by Michael Apted (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), Amazing Grace (2006)), well-known for his documentary series Up.

Written by Thomas Rickman (Bless the Child (2000), Hooper (1978)), he adapted Loretta Lynn’s autobiography.

Starring: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Beverly D’Angelo, Phyllis Boyens and others.

I sort of do like the music biopics, but often times they either lack an impact or dramatize the events to the point, where you really start questioning if they have any connection with actual facts. I think I’d put this in the first category.

I don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but I couldn’t believe for one second that Sissy Spacek is 13 at the start of the movie. She’s actually like 31 or something, that’s actually like the opposite of 13. At least it was really easy for me to accept her relationship with Tommy Lee Jones who in the film is supposed to be 21, but I don’t think Jones has ever looked younger than 30. Anyway I suspended my disbelief for this, but really it was a bit jarring. Also it took some time to digest Jones being a redhead.

Since I’m not a huge country music fan, I didn’t think I’d be much interested in a biopic about Loretta Lynn, but I must admit it was quite captivating. It’s not every day that you see a redheaded Tommy Lee Jones going all out pedophile asshole on not-redheaded Sissy Spacek playing a little girl. Seriously though, it was an interesting look at the sort of morality and social standards in regard to marriage at such a young age, abuse from a spouse and things like that.

One thing I found really weird is that they sort of try to defend Lynn’s husband’s abusive behavior, with his contribution to shaping her career. No, I still think he’s a fucking asshole, but I’m not sorry for Lynn either, because if you go and marry someone at the age of 13, what do you expect will happen on the wedding night? Some holding hands? And if you don’t just leave your abusive husband, when you can provide for yourself, then you deserve the beating you get. I guess back then it was like a normal thing to do, so they all needed a bit of back-slapping some sense into them.

Overall, an interesting and enjoyable story, but there’s not much to take away from it, except some knowledge about Lynn’s life and the realization that back then you could be 29 years old country music singer, top the music charts and be a grandmother at the same time. Well acted, well-made film, recommended if you’re looking for a solid biopic and not much more.

"That's right, not using contraception runs in my family"

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