Starring: Jessica Lange, Ed Harris, Ann Wedgeworth, David Clennon
Director: Karel Reisz
When I first saw this brilliant biopic back in the mid ’80s I was totally smitten both with the subject, country singer Patsy Kine, and the woman who embodied her, Jessica Lange. Bedecked in a wardrobe of the most magnificent outfits courtesy of Ann Roth (Anthony Minghella’s favourite costume designer) and miming to the original Kline vocal tracks with a finesse that would put many a drag queen to shame, Lange presents the legendary diva as a fabulously feisty character with a wicked sense of humour. Following a cracking good script by Robert Getchell of Mommie Dearest fame, Sweet Dreams traces Kline’s torrid life from 1956 when she’s singing at small town jamborees right through to the big time in Nashville. And with her all the way, for better or worse is her second husband, the cocky Charley Dick, played to perfection by Ed Harris.
At first it seems like a match made in heaven but their Honeymoon period starts to wane and domestic blisters surface when Charley’s violent side makes itself well and truly felt on poor old Patsy’s face. Knowing that she is destined for better things Patsy leaves her kids in the care of her mother Hilda Hensley (a truly fabulous Ann Wedgeworth) and takes herself off to Nashville where she meets up with agent Randy Hughes (David Clennon). Love songs, he realises, are her forte so he teams her up with producer Owen Bradley (who much later worked with k.d. lang on her album Shadowlands) and the four-part male harmony section known as The Jordanairs, and before they know it they’ve got a runaway cross-over success on their hands.
Directed by Czech-born Karel Reisz who made The French Lieutenant’s Woman, this is a truly absorbing portrait of a seriously talented, strong willed woman whose life was cut tragically short. Luckily for us Patsy Kline left behind a whole lot of timeless songs that still send a tingle up the spine and Sweet Dreams is chocka block full of the best of them.