Doing Time For Patsy Cline

on March 03, 2006 by Susan Lambert
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   The amusingly-titled "Doing Time For Patsy Cline" is a clever tale told with a small cast of enormous talent. The young and puppy-eyed Matt Day (from "Love and Other Catastrophes" and "Kiss or Kill") plays Ralph, an outback-bred, down-under country boy who leaves his loving parents and their dusty farm and heads off with his guitar for the shining streets of Nashville to be a country singing star. But before he can even leave Australia, Ralph meets up with a vulnerable ne'er-do-well, Boyd (Richard Roxburgh), and his beautiful girlfriend Patsy (Miranda Otto), and trouble follows. Soon Boyd and Ralph are in jail, Patsy's disappeared and Nashville seems a dream away.
   Described by writer/director/producer and former dentist Chris Kennedy as a "rhinestone Casablanca," this subtle film unfolds with a unique structure, comic touches and deep-hearted innocence that makes it more like "countryfied Capra." Day, as the straight-arrow Ralph, is quickly emerging into a hot young Australian star and here, his underlying sweetness serves him well. Roxburgh brings edge, charm and truth to his portrayal of a two-bit perpetually lying shyster, but it's Miranda Otto who glows luminescent as the troubled girl with a heart of gold that brings home the film. Otto layers what might have been a one-dimensional role with rich heart and gooey soul, and she performs a startlingly raw, painfully beautiful version of Cline's "Crazy."
   The pace is slow but steady, and well worth the time. The comedy comes quirky and deadpan, with send-ups/homages of everything from "Casablanca" to the Beatles. The only thing really lacking in this funky country love story is more funky country music. The few songs that actually grace the soundtrack are good, but not worth the re-hashing they get throughout the film in the place of additional material.    Starring Matt Day, Miranda Otto and Richard Roxburgh. Written and directed by Chris Kennedy. Produced by Chris Kennedy and John Winter. Drama. Running time: 95 min.
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