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Published on Jun 19, 2009
In early 1960's rural Alabama, young Lewellen (Dakota Fanning) lives with her stern, religious grandmother, Grammie (Piper Laurie), but spends most of her time with her abusive father, whom she calls Daddy (David Morse), in his dilapidated shack. Lewellen is deeply talented and finds comfort and safety, as well as a place to put her hurt and rage, in the music of Elvis Presley, even though Charles (Afemo Omilami), the wise groundskeeper of the mansion down the road, tries to convince her that "there is more to fill out that emptiness with than just Elvis." After Lewellen's father is struck by lightning, he forgets his abusive ways and is kind to her, however, having lost most of his memory he isn't a suitable parent. When Elvis Presley comes to town for a concert, Lewellen is desperate to go, but has no money for a ticket. Her closest friend, Buddy (Cody Hanford), tricks Lewellen into dancing and singing like Elvis for Wooden's Boy (Christoph Sanders) in exchange for tickets he has to the concert. During the impersonation, Wooden's Boy rapes Lewellen, sending her into a spiral of depression and self-destruction. Upon overhearing Buddy and Wooden's Boy talking about Lewellen's condition, Charles goes to her and teaches her to sing the blues to channel her tragedy into something positive. After finally finding happiness, Lewellen leaves her father and goes to live with the Stranger Lady (Robin Wright Penn), whom (unbeknownst to Lewellen) is actually her aunt.