Picks and Pans Review: Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: the Dottie West Story
When your biopic begins with a senseless car crash, as does Michele Lee's portrait of country music star Dottie West, you know your movie ain't going to be no picnic down at the old mill pond. That scene is followed by a series of glowing testimonials from such real-life Nashville stars as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, dissonantly interspersed with an actor playing a bank official who intones such judgments as, "She was a criminal, pure and simple." Okay, so now you know you're in for a sad and strange treatment.
West is presented as a hillbilly gal from Tennessee who determinedly attained her dreams of singing at the Opry and living in a mansion on a promontory but was haunted by loss (particularly of her close friend Patsy Cline) and twisted by alcohol, compulsive shopping and childhood incest.
William Russ plays Bill West, the first of Dottie's three husbands and father of her four children, including singer Shelly. Larry Gatlin and Kenny Rogers play themselves. None of them should be too pleased with their contributions to this mawkish, artificial and poorly organized movie. There are also some problems with makeup. As West, Lee looks far younger in the 1991 scenes than in those from 1958. And in the performance segments, Lee suggests Ann-Margret far more than she does Ms. West.