Musicians repeatedly provide massive movie fodder and country singer Tanya Tucker enters the field with a documentary that offers a couple of twists. For one thing, filmmakers avoid a song title, instead calling their movie The Return of Tanya Tucker. The second twist happens when that return expands beyond expectations. The project’s roots include another country singer—Brandi Carlile—who lists Tucker as the artist whose stage style she admired most while growing up. Tucker—for those who never caught one of her frequent Nevada casino performances—hit big at age 14 with the song “Delta Dawn” and moved on with a string of hits, Grammy nominations, a refusal to dress in the flowing gowns of her era, and a general hellraising attitude that put her in the tabloids. Working with Carlile, director Kathlyn Horan gets revealing access into the process of relighting a star—not a simple job. Cigarettes and time change Tucker’s voice and sex-kitten demeanor. She hates schedules and dreads rejection. But her fiber as an entertainer blessed with musical talent gives the project’s musicians and filmmakers hope that something special will eventually emerge. It does, and director Horan’s camera catches the spark that leads to a surprising resurgence for Tucker's.
Such quote “in-the-moment” captures put the project into a dimension that transcends a basic documentary full of archival footage, instead leading to gradual revelations and progress as they occur in reality. As end credits roll, The Return of Tanya Tucker reveals a story of resilience and strength.