Movie Information

Ron Howard's bio-doc about the famous tenor celebrates the man's life but fails to reach the insightful levels of RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Ask Dr. Ruth.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Luciano Pavarotti, Bono
Rated: PG-13

The new documentary about opera singer Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007) by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard is like the famous tenor’s public persona: big, friendly and nonthreatening — an invitation for everyone, regardless of musical tastes, to enjoy the talents of one of the all-time greats.

What it is not is another probing documentary akin to RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? or Ask Dr. Ruth, films that take late 20th-century cultural icons and put them into the context of their times, with implicit lessons for the present day. Pavarotti seems to exist without significant historical connections, other than his relationships with other celebrities, such as Princess Diana and U2’s Bono.

This is a celebratory biography, targeted to the singer’s existing fan base, whether dedicated or casual, and it’s delightful to have the tale summarized with authority. The archival footage is impressive, and the interviews include almost all the major surviving players — the wife, the daughters, the mistresses, the impresarios, the collaborators. All clearly loved Luciano, despite his casual stomping on the emotions of countless loved ones. Indeed, the singer’s ability to be both incredibly generous and stupefyingly selfish makes for a fascinating subtext to Howard’s film.

Now playing at the Fine Arts Theatre


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