Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter

Sissy Spacek received her second Best Actress nomination (and to date) only Oscar for playing country legend Loretta Lynn in the movie Coal Miner's Daughter. I think there was no way in hell that she was not winning that Oscar. She had the best, most baity role of all, was a previous nominee, who lost for a buzzed performance, she sang Loretta Lynn's difficult songs, she swept the critics' awards. So that's called a lock. I think that Mary Tyler Moore was her only real competition, but it was also the snobism of the Academy towards TV actors that gave Spacek the edge probably.

Coal Miner's Daughter is a very entertaining movie, a fair biography that I thuroughly enjoyed. I think all the nominations were deserved (very much) and let me say that I HAD to watch this to forget Gloria as soon as possible. Although Coal Miner's Daughter is not a classic either, it's just great and I think we can all just agree on that. Tommy Lee Jones gives an excellent performance which is a supporting role, though he probably has not much less screentime than Spacek. A nomination would have been deserved for him.

Still, Coal Miner's Daughter is about Loretta Lynn and the actress who played her, the magnificent Ms. Sissy Spacek, who's a real chameleon: she can play any role she wants from the troubled, psychopath teenager to a grieving mother. She's so damn versatile that I always keep wondering: what's next? She has such a luminous, radiant personality that is so well-balanced, and by this her performances always seem to be effortless.

Loretta Lynn is a role to die for. I'm still a bit surprised that Sissy was chosen for the part. At first sight, there's not much physical resemblance between the two, but miraculously, this wasn't a problem with Sissy. She inhabited the personality of Loretta (I always want to write Young, damn, my actressing mind) so thrillingly, that you actually never see Sissy acting on the screen. She becomes this person and develops her character exceptionally. Also, she works brilliantly with Tommy Lee Jones: they make up a really great couple, they are really charming and loveable together and I just loved them.

There are so many faces of Loretta: first she's an intelligent, but very naive young girl, who's hard-working and loving. She tries her best to be a good mother and wife, despite being a child. First everything is terrifying to her: there's a scene which takes place at the wedding night of Loretta and Doo. Loretta starts screaming and crying when her husband wants to have sex with her. And that scream is so heartbreaking: do you realise that she's not even fourteen? I mean this reality is so shocking. And despite being much older, I never had a single doubt that Sissy was not 14. She showed the childish behaviour of Loretta very believably.

Sissy then shows us how Loretta becomes a mother, who's singing to her children at night. And boy, that voice is really awesome! I mean, I really don't understand how Sissy was able so sing so well despiite the fact that she's not a professional singer. If she made a country record, I would most definitely listen to it many times. Not only does she sing perfectly, but she also fills the songs with so many emotions. It was just awesome.

The strongest part of her performance comes when Loretta befriends Patsy Cline, the famous country singer. Beverly D'Angelo (robbed of the nomination for Best Supporting Actress) and Sissy Spacek work together so astonishingly that I became speechless at some of their scenes. For example, the one in the hospital: Loretta's extremely shy in the presence of a star and Patsy seems to be very casual and cool about Loretta. The chemistry between the two ladies is probably even stronger than the one between Sissy and Tommy Lee Jones.

Sissy also shows the star persona of Loretta: everything comes so fast in this movie, just like Loretta's life as she says. She becomes quite divaish and self-confident, much different from the shy girl in the beginning. I loved the scene where Loretta's waving to her fans from the bus: Sissy is so terrific at showing how new and lovely this situation is for Loretta, who's not used to such things. After all, she breaks down from the pressure of stardom in a heartbreaking scene, where Sissy is simply the best. It's one of the most subtly acted breakdowns in history, but it's very effective.

So after all, I was amazed by Sissy's brilliant performance in this movie. Sometimes I was so captivated by her, that I forgot that I was actually watching a movie. It's a really gripping, powerful performance, which is extremely subtle, but is full of layers, quiet emotions and brilliant singing. It's not a typical Spacek-performance, but a proof of the versatility of a performer.

What do you think? It's time to give your final predictions, people! :) Mary's review comes soon.


Anonymous said...

No surprise here :)

ThiagoTos said...

Wow! I'm with In The Bedroom here, I will watch today, maybe. Unfortunately, the movie rental store doesn't have Coal Miner's Daughter, but I'm happy with your words, I trust in your opinion. I've never seen a movie with her (ITB will be the first, Carrie will come later), but I have a sympathy for this actress, she seems so true, simple and charismatic. Happy that she deserverd her award. (Sorry for my poor English).

Fritz said...

Great review for a great performance! I guess that she will be your pick.

dinasztie said...

Sage: Well, no surprise really. This is one of those rare performances which is loved by everyone. Some say that she did not deserve the Oscar, but everyone says she's great.

ThiagoTos: You should really see this one.

Fritz: Thanks. We'll see.

Louis Morgan said...

I probably should watch this one. This year will probably be close for you.