In this very satisfying movie about country music star Patsy Cline, actress Jessica Lange is irresistibly exuberant. Although recordings of the smooth, full, and supple voice of the accomplished singer are used for all the songs, this gifted actress succeeds in vividly portraying the passionate side of Patsy Cline on the other side of the microphone.
How does a man handle a demonstrative, vibrant, and ambitious woman? That question crops up in many of Karel Reisz's films; certainly this is true of Isadora and The French Lieutenant's Woman. Here young Patsy Cline walks out on her first husband after she falls madly in love with Charlie Dick (Ed Harris), a charming, cocky, and very earthy factory worker. He is mesmerized by Patsy's singing at a local dance club, and she knows that they are destined to be together.
Patsy's career takes a great leap forward after she appears on a national television broadcast of "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts." She goes on tour in 1958 but interrupts her career to have children. Then in June 1961, Patsy Cline is seriously injured in an automobile accident. She eventually recovers.
Despite a stormy marriage to Charlie, who can't seem to handle her success or his libido, Patsy moves to higher ground when she hires Randy Hughes (David Clennon) as her manager. He tells her, "You've got a voice that was made to sing love songs." Patsy's career takes off; she sings at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and begins a grueling tour.
Her heart is big enough to take the pain that Charlie dishes out with his infidelities, his jealousy over her success, and his drunken violence. Patsy's saintly mother (Ann Wedgeworth) helps her daughter weather the storms of her marriage.
But returning from a concert in Kansas City in 1963, Patsy Cline, along with her manager and two other singers, is killed when their plane crashes during a storm. The words on the bronze plaque on Patsy Cline's grave read "Death cannot kill what never dies." Sweet Dreams beautifully celebrates both the woman and her extraordinary talent.