Patsy Cline biopic with music, drinking, wife beating.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that with its scenes of domestic violence and frequent profanity, Sweet Dreams pushes the limit of its PG-13 rating. While the movie tells the story of Patsy Cline's rise to stardom and features her indelible musical performances, the emotional emphasis is on the passionate and abusive relationship between Patsy and her husband, Charlie. Their fights move from early scenes of mutual angry words to Charlie's ultimately graphic and brutal beating of his wife. In addition, there is a devastating auto accident which results in bloody injuries and ugly scarring. The final action is suspenseful and horrifying as a plane crashes and explodes with four passengers inside. Drinking, drunkenness, and smoking are continuous throughout and alcoholism plays an important role in the tragedy of Patsy's life. There's lots of swearing and name-calling: "ass," "s--t," "hell," "t-ts," "screw," and more.
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What's the Story?
Talented, ambitious, and outspoken, Patsy Cline (Jessica Lange) made her own way, on her own terms in the male-dominated music business in the 1950s. One of the earliest cross-over singers from country music to pop, her exceptional voice and spirit found her at the top of the charts by the time was 30. In SWEET DREAMS, Patsy's personal story -- the rags-to-riches climb; the passionate yet volatile marriage to Charlie Dick (Ed Harris), the man she called "the great love of her life"; and her tragic early death -- is dramatized as her music plays throughout, providing an exhilarating look at a very gifted artist.
Is It Any Good?
There's lots of music, all of the original Patsy Cline vocals with Jessica Lange's terrific visual performances, as well as other hits of the 1950s and '60s. Lange was Oscar-nominated for a very demanding role and Ed Harris is stunning as Charlie Dick, the passionate heel Patsy couldn't or wouldn't break free of.
However, despite the exuberance and joy of the music and the very colorful look at a time past, the movie tells a tragic story with serious issues (alcoholism, domestic abuse) about the sometimes devastating unpredictability of life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about biographical movies. How can we determine what is true and/or what has been made up to make the story more dramatic or interesting? Does it matter? If it does, what resources are available to you to get the full story?
Did watching this film make you more aware of the dangers of alcoholism? How did Charlie's drinking affect Patsy and her family?
There's lots of swearing and profanity in this film. In this case, is it an effective way to give the viewer a vivid picture of the characters and the emotions they're feeling? What would the film be like without the swearing?
- In theaters: October 2, 1985
- On DVD or streaming: June 22, 1999
- Cast: Ed Harris, Jessica Lange
- Director: Karel Reisz
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: February 3, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Coal Miner's Daughter
Loretta Lynn's tough but heartwarming biopic.
Walk the Line
Fascinating biopic, best for mature teens and up.
Excellent portrayal of extraordinary musician.
The Buddy Holly Story
Bio of '50s music icon has great music, positive values.
For kids who love true stories
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