Lifetime's 'Patsy & Loretta' tells the story of the friendship between the iconic singers looking out for each other
Directed by Callie Khouri who wrote the Academy-Award winning script for 'Thelma & Louise', 'Patsy & Cline' forego the difficult moments in the singers' lives to focus on their friendship
Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn are two of country music's most iconic legends. Cline passed away in an airplane crash at the age of 30, leaving behind her husband, Charlie Dick, her two children, and the women she looked out for in the music industry. While Lifetime's latest offering, 'Patsy & Loretta', highlights the friendship between Cline and Lynn, Cline was also friends with country singers Dottie West, Jan Howard, and June Carter Cash. The people she left behind made sure her legacy stayed alive long after her death.
It is Cline's and Lynn's daughters who have produced the film together. Julie Fudge, Cline's daughter, was only four years old when her mother passed away and Patsy Lynn Russell — born after Cline's death — was named after the singer by her mother, Loretta Lynn. Based on a script from Angelina Burnett ('Memphis Beat'), the movie was directed by Callie Khouri, who won an Academy Award for writing the screenplay of 'Thelma & Louise'. 'Patsy & Cline' does not just borrow the styling of the name from the 1992 movie but also evokes the journey of female friendship from the iconic movie.
The Lifetime movie begins in 1957 when Patsy Cline (played by Megan Hilty) was already a major singer with hits such as 'Walking After Midnight' and 'I Fall to Pieces', while Loretta Lynn (played by Jessie Mueller) was a young mother writing songs and playing on her $17 guitar. This is also the year Patsy met her second husband, Charlie Dick (Kyle Schmid). The movie then goes to 1961. After Patsy is involved in an automobile accident and is recuperating, she hears Loretta cover her song, 'I Fall to Pieces' on the radio and wants to meet her.
Loretta comes to the hospital to visit Patsy, thinking the latter might be angry she covered her song — but this is where the beautiful friendship began. Patsy tells her she was touched by Loretta's singing and the two begin to hang out. While Patsy recovers, Loretta's songs start to get famous as well and she's invited to perform at shows and tours. Patsy makes sure that Loretta knows to perform only after being paid — in a scene in the movie, Patsy makes sure the owner pays up before Loretta walks on to the stage — and to be prepared for going on tour with men.
The movie might be disjointed but it tries to fit in many moments between the two singers from here on out — both Patsy's and Loretta's issues with their husbands, Loretta's worries about having more children, and then, of course, the pain of leaving their kids behind while they go on tour to perform around the country. The many conversations and soft moments that we don't normally pay attention to feature as the best scenes in the film. We also get a small scene featuring Dottie West, Jan Howard, and June Carter.
We all know what's coming, but the movie makes sure to let the audience realize that when Patsy's leaving for her benefit concert, saying goodbye to her family, that she will not be coming back. After the tour, all she wants is to get back home to her family. She gets on the airplane and it takes off into the cloudy skies. The next scene is everyone at her funeral. Later, Loretta checks on Charlie who is broken, but she helps him get back on his feet.
The movie then goes to 10 years later in 1973, where Loretta is performing. It's a beautiful performance and she is joined by a memory or a ghost version of Patsy as the two sing together. Patsy and Loretta never got to perform together in real life, and this moment feels heartbreaking. We then see Loretta calling in her daughters for dinner — Peggy and Patsy who were born in 1963. After they go in, she sees a ghost version of Patsy standing far away. Loretta waves back to her and goes back to her house. This particular moment felt too much and a little unsettling. The one scene with the performance was enough and this just feels like overkill.
Hilty's performance as Patsy Cline is one for the books and she easily evokes the persona and aura of the singer while Mueller's Lynn feels softer than her real-life counterpart. It is probably because the movie wanted to focus on the conversations between Patsy and Loretta that the scenes of anguish and grief are cut short. That makes us think the story could have been better told in a miniseries format. With what it's done, however, 'Patsy & Loretta' is a good movie focusing on female friendship and would count as the perfect addition for Girls' Night.
'Patsy & Cline' aired on Lifetime on October 19.
Megan Hilty as Patsy Cline
Jessie Mueller as Loretta Lynn
Kyle Schmid as Charlie Dick
Joe Tippett as Doolittle Lynn