Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sissy Spacek, in Coal Miner's Daughter
approximately 84 minutes and 43 seconds*
70.7% of the film

The film

Biography of Loretta Lynn, a country and western singer that came from poverty to fame.

You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

A decent movie, for a biopic. Of course it could’ve been better in exploiting the leading character, but in the end you know what to expect: it’s mostly about the music. An easy to watch film, lifted by the leading performance and the direction.

Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn

What can you say about a performance that won the Oscar, the Golden Globe, the NBR, the National Society, the New York, the Los Angeles and the Kansas City awards for Best Actress? Well, unless it’s Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice) or Emma Thompson (Howards End), you criticize it. But that’s just me joking; partly. Because Sissy Spacek easily manages to act above other biopic performances.

It’s good to know that I am not familiar with the real Loretta Lynn, so I’m not influenced by the real-life artist. Also, even though I admire that Sissy sang her own songs (and did a great Grammy-nominated job for that), it won’t affect my judging. So Sissy plays Loretta, a coal farmer’s daughter who (foolishly) marries very young and accidentally becomes a country music sensation!

For the role to work, they needed someone who could play Loretta from 13 years old to her mid 30s. Sissy seems to be the perfect casting, as she always kept a girlish look and has the technique and experience (Carrie) to pull off a teenager performance. By doing that, she proves lots of talent: she makes the character believable and doesn’t bother to hide Loretta’s flawed decisions or redneck attitude. She gets lost into the character and that’s what makes the movie work.

I’m not sure how accurate her Southern accent is, but it sounded good enough for me. I’m not sure if Loretta was a fierce personality, loud and big-mouthed, but by choosing to go there, Sissy invests in creating a full character. To her credit, she manages to show us Loretta’s journey in a believable way and you can definitely feel the character arc, the evolution from a shy teenager to a loud housewife to a straight-forward, proud woman.

Her singing moments seem to be perfectly acted; she feels the emotion of the lyrics and it’s definitely a breath of fresh air from the loudness of the normal-life Loretta. It’s Sissy Spacek who makes this film enjoyable and gives it credibility (Beverly D’Angelo also contributes a lot in her scenes); even though she sometimes goes a bit too far on the hillbilly aspect of it (the first radio scene), Sissy really knows the character, manoeuvring it most correctly.

The scene that seduced me is of course her breakdown on stage. Though disappointing screenplay-wise, Sissy saves the scene and makes it so believable that you can’t help but be moved by it. The tears, the speech, knowing exactly when to say the lines and always keeping the accent: you can feel the emotion and the dedication to the character.

Sissy Spacek makes the right choices: she doesn’t create a glamorized, idealized character, but a flawed person whose journey we can understand and truly believe in. The singing aspect of the performance is admirable mostly due to the emotion displayed while hitting the lyrics. It’s not the best performance ever, nor a favourite one for me, but I really admire the work that went into offering us an enjoyable, yet difficult to portray, character. Nice work: . And I can’t honestly say that I don’t know if this will be my 1st choice for 1980, my 2nd or 3rd. We’ll see!

*the screen-time never includes photos, but does include voice (and considering that Sissy did her own singing, her voice was counted even when she wasn’t on screen)


Cal said...

Classic Sissy. You can really see her evolve as a character throughout the film and even though I don't love the film (or biopics in general) it's the perfect biopic performance.

joe burns said...

Haven't seen this film.

Alex in Movieland said...

well, I'm not sure I'd go for perfect biopic performance, but it's definitely a very effective one.

I just wish Sissy could get more roles these days! Meryl is chewing everything!

MrJeffery said...

sissy is indeed fabulous. i'm glad she chose not to dub her songs. it lends to the performance's realism.

brittle said...

Jessica Lange in frances i guess makes it on the perfect biopic performance for me! (hate em too!)
perfect blog btw!!

Alex in Movieland said...

now what does "hate em too!" refer to? :)

thanks. it's not, but it's comforting

Anonymous said...

Alex, I met Loretta Lynn 3 years ago, and I can safely say everything from the accent to the mannerisms are Loretta Lynn. It was mindblowing to actually meet Lynn because I thought Sissy Spacek was going to jump out of her or something.

Alex in Movieland said...

that's nice. and I know i can always trust Sissy Spacek to do justice to a role... I guess.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I too wish Sissy [and Jessica] would get some roles. I know Glenn is lost to TV, but Meryl seems to be the only one getting work.

PS. My review of Precious is finally up.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Alex in Movieland said...

Anomymous, my blog is for my own archiving movie Oscar pleasure. It's not a test, I'm not trying to prove anything about me to other bloggers. if you like it, fine. if not, still fine.