Produced by HBO, the 1985 Patsy Cline biopic Sweet Dreams plays like a really good TV movie. Mediocre production values and the narrow focus on her relationship with husband Charlie Dick (Ed Harris) makes a soap opera out of a country music legend. While it's a wise approach to show how her turbulent marriage paralleled her crossover to Countrypolitan ballads, the melodrama tends to overshadow the celebrity story by relegating her rise to stardom to the background. Due to the historically dubious concerts at carnivals and fairgrounds, it appears as though she wasn't as big a star as she actually was. Thankfully Jessica Lange gives it her all by creating a cheerful and spirited Cline who survives hardships with a good-natured Southern attitude. While her career is spotted with factual errors, at least her clothes are accurate: Nudie suit-dresses and cowgirl outfits during the late '50s for her early honky tonk songs, and gold lamé and pointy bras for the Nashville sound of the early '60s. By choosing to lip-sync to the actual recordings, Lange puts on excellent performances to some of Cline's biggest hits. Despite the subtle smoothing over of some major life events, her tragic death is unfortunately handled as blatantly as possible. While it probably won't please serious fans, Sweet Dreams is a pleasant enough picture of the country star until a more personal and touching portrait comes along.
by Andrea LeVasseur review