6ART – AMERICANA
Dolly Parton’s ability to remain not only a star but a role model and a leader is what makes this film so inspiring. She is Americana pure. The power of her personal brand, her skills as a writer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and all-around force – smart, funny, sexy – is so obvious here and well examined without feeling like anything is over-egged. She’s a class act, and though this is no great even-handed feat of filmmaking it’s the reminder we need and that she deserves. So for that it gets a big tick.
Why is this film good? Is it the direction, the cinematography? No, it looks like these productions usually do. Does it break new ground in music documentary storytelling? Not really. The film is great because it is about Dolly and she is arguably the greatest living American person. The film shows us why that judgement is unarguable, over and over again. An artist, philanthropist, feminist and role model, Parton continues to show the world how to use and then transcend your image as long as it is for the greater good.
The epitome of a self-made woman, Parton built her career from the dirt upwards through willpower, hard work, generosity and an extraordinary amount of talent. For a lot of the 60s and 70s she worked alongside country star Porter Wagoner in a television and recording partnership that eventually made her a household name, sending her towards pop and movie stardom by the 80s. Her role in the feminist comedy 9 to 5 not only won her the respect of the super-experienced co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin but an Academy Award nomination for the magnificent title song.
For the first time, Dolly’s musicians, co-writers and producers speak on camera about her life, with the documentary offering unprecedented access into both her personal life and her career. Dolly personally takes viewers though some of her greatest songs including: ‘The Bridge’, ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘9 to 5’. Cameras also capture the 50th anniversary of her first performance in Nashville, with archived footage showing that very performance all those years ago.
USA 2019, 89 min, rated G
Directed by Francis Whately