Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

Movie Information

The disappointing documentary offers a surface-level look at a remarkable talent.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton
Rated: PG-13

When documentaries focus on likable people who’ve had no public scandals or weird controversies, it’s easy for the films to slide into the realm of the “fluff piece.” There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this style of positive reporting or filmmaking, but there usually isn’t anything exciting about it either. The Sound of My Voice, about the megatalented and highly revered singer Linda Ronstadt, is one of these works. It’s competently made and reasonably interesting, but it’s cursory. Frankly, I’ve seen more depth in episodes of A&E’s “Biography.”

Let me give you an example: It’s the 1970s. Everyone’s on drugs and everyone knows it, including Ronstadt and her band. The subject of substance abuse is usually the meat of any story about that decade and its excesses, but not this time. Drug culture and the issues it brought to big ’70s rock tours are given a mere 90 seconds worth of screen time, which seems disingenuous to me. Sure, Ronstadt probably wasn’t as into that scene as others, but glossing over the entire topic makes me wonder what’s being covered up. Is there more to the story? The cryptic presentation suggests so.

Furthermore, The Sound of My Voice often seems to forget who it’s supposed to be about. The star repeatedly takes a back seat while others use her life and career to tell stories of their own accomplishments. The bland talking-head format paints Ronstadt as a secondary character in her own life, and as the film moves from one of her milestones to the next, the chapters are told with little fuss and no flourish. The stories are in there somewhere, but the superficial way in which they’re presented leaves much to be desired. I half expected a commercial break to interrupt the programming.

I like Linda Ronstadt. I think most people do, but The Sound of My Voice does her amazing talent no justice. She deserves to have her story told in a way that reflects her artistry and sense of style — not the watered-down glance we’re given here. Fans who aren’t looking for an in-depth examination of an artist or an era will probably find nothing to fault, but won’t be given much to remember, either.

Starts Sept. 13 at Grail Moviehouse

About James Rosario
James is a writer, record collector, wrestling nerd, and tabletop gamer living with his family in Asheville, North Carolina. He is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and contributes to The Daily Orca, Razorcake Magazine, and Mountain Xpress.

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One thought on “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

  1. Jeffrey M Hersk

    Don’t listen to this fool – go see it. I’m kicking myself for almost staying home because of this lame review. If you don’t believe me, it’s got a 100% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In short, this disappointing review offers a surface-level diss of a remarkable documentary.

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