Marie is a powerfully-made political melodrama, the many strengths of which are vitiated only by the relative familiarity of the expose, little person-vs.-the establishment framework. Sissy Spacek adds another excellent characterization to her credits.
Based on a book [Marie: A True Story] by Peter Maas, tale opens in 1968 with a rough scene in which Spacek and her small kids leave home after she is brutalized by her husband. Five years later, after educating herself further, she gets a job as extradition director and, before long, is appointed chairman of the parole board for the State of Tennessee.
Helping guide her up the twisting stairway of the political system is ostensible friend Jeff Daniels, a close aide of Governor Blanton who frequently comes to Spacek with overt suggestions that she speed through the parole of certain individuals.
John Briley has set the story down in cogent fashion, and director Donaldson has brought tremendous freshness to its telling.
Spacek is right at home with her role while Jeff Daniels is outstanding as her duplicitous associate.