Sweet Dreams | Chicago Reader

Sweet Dreams

The life and hard times of country singer Patsy Cline, divided into two easy-to-digest sections: an hour of bright, irresistible romantic comedy (as Patsy meets and marries her freewheeling second husband) followed by an hour of glum, masochistic melodrama (as the freewheeling turns to alcoholism, violence, and abandonment). Director Karel Reisz (The French Lieutenant's Woman) clearly doesn't trust the American audience's ability to handle mixed, emotionally complex tones (and by all the available evidence he's right not to), yet by segregating the feelings he wants to express he makes them seem artificial and programmatic. But the performances do have a redeeming vividness: Ed Harris displays an unexpected streak of casual charm, and Jessica Lange, as Cline, finds her most rounded, most natural screen role; there isn't another contemporary American actress who can compare with her ease, openness, and sense of self-enjoyment before a camera. With Ann Wedgeworth, David Clennon, and James Staley; photographed, with a touch too much fashionable backlighting, by Robbie Greenberg.

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