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Coal Miner's Daughter
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Loretta and Doo have a volatile relationship. Loretta meets and marries him at 13, and is horrified to have sex with Doo, who's several years older. Doo forces himself on her anyway (in a scene that's under the covers and not visible, but still disturbing). Later, they fight publicly with each other, hitting and slapping each other. There's plenty of alcohol use and abuse here as well. Loretta takes sleeping pills.
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What's the story?
Sissy Spacek stars as Loretta Lynn, the oldest daughter of eight born to a coal miner and his wife in Appalachia. Loretta is the apple of her father's eye, but when Loretta falls for military veteran Doolittle (Tommy Lee Jones), who's at least 10 years her senior, Loretta's dad has to let her go. He only makes Doo promise to "don't never heart her and don't take her off far from home." Doo has done both. Fourteen and pregnant, Loretta suddenly finds herself far from Kentucky, living with her children and Doo in Washington state. The only thing that comforts her is her singing. Doo wants to share her beautiful voice with the world. At his insistence, Loretta sings at honkytonks, makes her own album, and travels around to DJs to promote the album. When it pays off and Loretta is being compared to icons like Patsy Cline (Beverly D'Angelo), can they keep their marriage together and can Doo cope with being less important than his superstar wife?
Is it any good?
Music biopics are always compelling. Ray and Walk the Line both were nominated for and won Oscars. Kids today may not know much about Loretta Lynn, but they'll learn a lot -- and have fun -- watching COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, the biopic of her life that won Spacek an Academy Award.
Given where Loretta comes from, it's amazing to see her rise to superstardom. It's also amazing to see the strength and confidence she shows to stand up in a honkytonk full of men and become their "girl singer." But Spacek's Loretta is complex: She's alternately meek and fiery with her husband. She's got an inner strength that's belied by her delicate voice and features. And director Michael Apted does a good job of including small moments that make Doo and Loretta's relationship real. And unlike more recent music biopics, Coal Miner's Daughter isn't soaked in cold-turkey rehab and horrible drug addiction. Like its star, the film is beautiful, quiet, charismatic, and gentle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how different life was when Loretta was a teen than it is now. Why did she get married at 13? If you liked someone at 13 would you want to get married? Would you want to have a child at 14? What do you think about Loretta and Doo's relationship? Is it healthy? What does a healthy relationship look like? What other movies show troubled relationships? How about healthy ones?
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