By William Wolf


There should be stirrings of new respect for the iconic singer Linda Ronstadt as a result of this compelling documentary by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. What comes through dynamically is the ultimate range of Ronstadt’s ability. While she was known for her pop, rock, folk and country singing that defined her award-winning career, as she progressed she branched out into other challenging areas.

For example, she could prove herself an excellent actress and light-opera singer tackling Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.” She could excel especially with Mexican songs, as exemplified in one of her popular recordings.

The film also shows her as an activist following through on her core beliefs. There is, of course, allusion to her personal life, as with her involvement with Jerry Brown when he was Governor of California. There is also th sadness of an illness that currently plagues her. At 73, she is battling Parkinson’s disease, which, of course, has played havoc with her voice.

What shines through is the past glory of her singing, her personality and her far-ranging talent. We get clips of her speaking on camera and also hear her in voiceovers. There are also clips of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt, for example.

The directors cover a broad span, and one can come away with fresh admiration for her, whether or not one was among her fans during the course of her career. The film is also entertaining in its own right as a biographical exploration of one who deserves the attention. A Greenwich Entertainment, 1091 and CNN Films release. Reviewed September 6, 2019.


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