When Lifetime decided to develop the untold story of the incredible friendship between country music icons Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, they tapped the perfect director: Callie Khouri. The woman who created Nashville and won the Oscar for her screenplay for Thelma and Louise brings together two of the things she knows best: country music and the indelible bond of female friendship. Patsy & Loretta at its core is an old-fashioned buddy movie that shows the intimate arc of two women who should’ve been rivals but became more like sisters and kindred spirits. It’s a story that’s never been told in such detail before now.
Patsy Cline (played by Megan Hilty) took Loretta Lynn (played by Jessie Mueller) under her wing from the start of her career and helped her navigate the male-dominated music business and its confusing contracts – not to mention how to handle a pair of high heels on stage. They both found they had a lot in common: hard-drinking husbands and their wandering eyes, the difficulty of juggling fame with raising children, and the art of finding that next big hit. Their friendship only lasted a brief 18 months because Patsy was tragically killed in a plane crash at age 30, but Loretta was forever changed by Patsy’s love and loyalty.
It helps tremendously that Hilty and Mueller are both accomplished Broadway stars and singers in their own right. Hilty had roles in Wicked, Noises Off, and the Broadway-adjacent TV show Smash, while Mueller won a Tony for Best Actress in Beautiful, the musical based on the life of Carole King. Together, they bring an effortlessness to the powerhouse vocals needed to do justice to Cline and Lynn’s talents. Hearing Hilty sing “Walking After Midnight” and “Crazy” in full are just a few highlights of the film.
Shot entirely on location in Nashville and at the historic Ryman Auditorium (former home of the Grand Ole Opry), the movie is a love letter to these legends and a tribute to their unique talents. Come for the performances, stay for the big country hair, hats, and costumes – they are a real hoot – and leave knowing a little bit more about what made these women and their bond so special. But don’t forget to bring some tissues.
Patsy & Loretta premieres at 8pm ET Saturday on Lifetime, and Sunday on-demand.