The Return of Tanya Tucker (2022)

Tucker and Carlile are in perfect harmony

Not content to present just one country great, first-time director Kathlyn Horan offers up two to double our pleasure in the fascinating documentary, “The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile.”

And, wow, are they something to see, one at the peak of her talent and fame, and the other coaxed out of a nearly 20-year hiatus to return to the studio under the tutelage of two whippersnappers in Carlile and producer Shooter Jennings.

The focus is on Tucker, the hard-living, tabloid darling of the 1970s and ’80s, and the various battle scars she bears as proudly as a war veteran. But Carlile is just as front and center, both geeking out in the presence of her hero and acting the strict parent when her “baby” begins to stray from the straight and narrow.

They make an excellent pair, but even more rewarding are their collaborations on Tucker’s comeback (she calls it “relaunch”) album, “While I’m Livin,’” which won them both Grammys for penning the affecting “Bring My Flowers Now.” For her part, Horan exhibits the shakiness of a first-time director, evidenced by her film’s lack of cohesion and purpose.

It’s never clear if the focus is on Carlile or the pink-haired Tucker, still as cantankerous and independent as ever. But the nostalgia inspired by photos and film clips of Tucker in her prime eclipses any bumpiness in the telling. And when the two icons join voices, it’s the sound of angels.

Movie review

The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile

Rated: R for language

Featuring: Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile

Director: Kathlyn Horan

Runtime: 108 minutes

Where to see: Streaming in Amazon Prime

Grade: B

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