Roush Review: ‘Patsy & Loretta’ a Tuneful Tribute to Female Friendship
Among the many memorable legends whose enthralling stories are told in Ken Burns’ recent epic history of Country Music on PBS, Patsy Cline looms large because her incredible career was cut so short way too soon—(historical spoiler alert) — dying in 1963 at the age of 30 in a plane crash.
Conversely, Loretta Lynn’s star continues to shine bright because of her remarkable longevity, and her presence brightens Burns’ film whenever she appears.
“The songs are just life,” she tells an interviewer in one indelible moment. “I’ve seen it or I’ve lived it — and I never would tell my husband which one it was,” she adds, laughing.
The life stories of these larger-than-life personalities have spawned separate acclaimed film biographies: Sweet Dreams about Cline (an Oscar nomination for Jessica Lange), Coal Miner’s Daughter about Lynn (an Oscar for Sissy Spacek). They are once again immortalized in Lifetime’s entertainingly schmaltzy Patsy & Loretta.
Produced by Neil Meron, making a welcome return to TV after the loss of his producing partner Craig Zadan (jointly responsible for many a live TV musical among other major events), this brisk, sweet, touching and, naturally, tuneful tribute to female friendship is directed by Callie Khouri (Nashville).
Megan Hilty (Smash) gives a wonderfully robust performance as the outspoken and driven Patsy, who’s such the life of any party that it makes her premature demise even more tragic. She’s a willing and wonderful mentor to the more naive, yet naturally gifted, Loretta, played by Jessie Mueller, who’s less familiar to TV audiences but is versatile enough to have won a Tony Award channeling the voice and soul of another musical great, Carole King (in the musical Beautiful).
It’s inspiring and terrifically enjoyable watching Patsy, a force of musical nature, take the less worldly Loretta under her wing. Still, the movie can be a bit sketchy as it races through their professional and personal lives, cutting from thrilling performances at the Grand Ole Opry to more standard-issue domestic soap opera. Patsy’s husband Charlie (Kyle Schmid) is a drunk, Loretta’s Doo (Joe Tippett) a moody and jealous handful, and yet these women stand by their men.
And vice versa. Because honestly, how could you not go “Crazy” for these ladies?
Patsy & Loretta, Premieres Saturday, October 19, 8/7c, Lifetime