There can be no doubt that Patsy Cline helped pave the way for what is a multi-billion dollar industry today – country music. Sure it was around before her, but her incredible voice brought her musical choices into the mainstream where it has remained (sorta) forevermore.
However, she led a life much like the rest of us. She was married and divorced and married again, had a bunch of kids and made shitloads of money before crashing into a mountainside in an airplane and dying.
This film tells her life story – or at least the choice interesting parts - and is ably acted by the ever-reliable Jessica Lange in the role of Patsy. Ed Harris plays her second husband, Charlie Dick, and does so in his usual manner of the seething monster lurking beneath a sunny veneer. They share a good chemistry as actors and they make a totally convincing couple, going from sickening cutesy to screaming rage within seconds (just like everyone else…).
This is a nice adaptation of Patsy’s life, though some might argue it all seems a little bit sterile for the most part, concentrating more on the pleasantries of her rise to fame, rather than the horrors of her home life. Her car accident is practically glossed over, as are her feelings toward the disfiguring scars she bore afterward. Her abuse at the hands of her husband, while in reality not a constant or regular affair, is also sugar coated or unshown, focussing more on his excessive extra-marital affairs.
However, the film is entirely watchable and while I didn’t find myself deeply engrossed I was curious to learn more about the Patsy Cline I was only truly familiar with from the comparably sister film Coal Miner’s Daughter. This film could easily sit comfortably alongside that excellent tome of Loretta Lynn’s life, however her friendship with Loretta isn’t mentioned in the slightest although they were buddies for years leading up to Patsy’s death.
While not necessarily just for the fans, this film is also a nice historical document of a performer who helped shape the modern country music industry, even if it is a slightly cleaner and tidier affair than Patsy’s real life was.
Shot in 1985, the film looks pretty good for its 19 years. Picture quality is fairly good with edges even enough. Colour is okay although ever-so-slightly washed out and blacks vary from murky black devoid of shadow detail to deep and mid dark blues. Flesh tones are even enough though and the film is delivered in the widescreen television-friendly aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with anamorphic enhancement.
Sadly only a Dolby Digital stereo presentation here on this budget release, but this does sound perfectly adequate. Large sections of Patsy’s numerous portfolio of hits get a workout here and there are only occasional moments in which we can tell Ms. Lange is miming to the recorded versions. Her accent of Patsy is perfect whenever she’s talking however, so that’s a plus. Sound effects are invisible and therefore fine and the musical score (that part untouched by the music of Patsy) is naturally country themed. Charles Gross scores here using all the wide range of country music instruments like the fiddle and the banjo… and many more.
If you’re a fan of Patsy Cline’s music (and truthfully, who isn’t?) you will no doubt enjoy this film. It’s mildly sterile and a more clinical adaptation of Patsy’s life, but is still very enjoyable and well worth the investigation. However, this strikes me more as just a collection filler, despite brilliant performances from Lange and Harris. Your folks will probably like it, or anyone else just after a relatively easy to watch film for a lazy Saturday afternoon.