“For a great long stretch of ‘Pavarotti,’ Ron Howard’s ebullient and elegantly straightforward documentary about the most celebrated operatic singer of the second half of the 20th century, it’s easy to get swept up into the fantasy that Luciano Pavarotti, in his robust and rotund smiling-tenor-of-the-masses way, was at once a supreme performer and an exemplary person,” writes Owen Gleiberman in Friday’s (6/7) Variety. “Even when [Pavarotti] became the biggest rock star of classical music on the planet, he never stopped seeing himself as an ordinary man touched with an extraordinary gift. Howard lets you feel that that’s who Pavarotti actually was. Yet fame has a way of complicating even simple men, and ‘Pavarotti’ is content to leave most of those complications on the cutting-room floor. Howard’s film, the third documentary that he has made about musical icons … is built around a massive archive of photographs and performance footage that allows us to relive Pavarotti’s career—or, if you don’t know much about him (which younger viewers won’t), to taste the unprecedented quality it carried…. Howard adopts a no-muss-no-fuss tone of benevolent civility that feels like a legitimate way to go.”

Posted June 10, 2019