Sissy Spacek won a much-deserved Oscar for her lead in this entertaining biography of country-music legend Loretta Lynn. British director Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist) brings fine texture to the Kentucky backwoods section of the film, where the teenage Loretta meets her future husband (Tommy Lee Jones), who ultimately pushes her into show business. Lynn''s adult life is well covered, from her spouse''s philandering to her own on-stage crackups; but between the chapter-and-verse recollections, the script by Thomas Rickman is layered with life and moments of great humor. No wooden portrait, this is a vibrant film made outstanding by the colorful performances of the two leads, as well as Beverly D''Angelo and the Band''s Levon Helm. --Tom Keogh
The story of Loretta Lynn, COAL MINER''S DAUGHTER charts the rise of the queen of country music from her upbringing in backwoods Appalachia to stardom at the Grand Ole Opry. One of eight children, she married at age 13 and was a mother of four at age 20. Shy and naive, she was pushed into music by her husband, Doolittle, who gave her a guitar instead of a ring for their wedding, in what was to be a career that also tracked her complicated relationship with this man. His strengths helped her create numerous hit singles, but his weaknesses inspired such immortal songs as "You Ain''t Woman Enough to Take My Man." Sissy Spacek won an Oscar for her virtuoso performance, mimicking Lynn''s voice nearly perfectly, while Beverly D''Angelo solidly impersonates Patsy Cline; unlike other music biographies, this film features both actors using their own voices in the singing scenes. Country music legend Ernest Tubb also makes a cameo. For director Michael Apted, COAL MINER''S DAUGHTER is one in a series of films--AGATHA, GORILLAS IN THE MIST, and NELL--he has made about strong, eccentric women.