Chavela (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Chavela (2017)



Critic Consensus: Chavela pays affecting tribute to its subject with an absorbing documentary that outlines her remarkable life while effectively communicating the power and lingering impact of her art.

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Chavela is the captivating look at the unconventional life of beloved performer Chavela Vargas, whose passionate renditions of Mexican popular music and triumphant return to the stage late in life brought her international fame. Born in Costa Rica in 1919, Chavela Vargas ran away to Mexico City as a teenager to sing in the streets. By the 1950s, she became a household name in her adopted country, delivering her performances with a raw passion and unique voice. Just as influential were her cultural contributions; Chavela was a bold, rebellious, sexual pioneer who was known for having many female lovers at a time when being out in Mexico was dangerous. Chavela centers around a 1991 interview--the singer's first public appearance after 15 hard years lost to alcoholism and heartbreak. In the final years of her life, Chavela openly comes out as a lesbian and rises into her momentous third act, becoming a muse to filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, earning a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and selling out performances at prestigious concert halls around the world.

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Critic Reviews for Chavela

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (13)

The late Chavela Vargas, a sad and fiery legend of Latin American song, is the subject of an adoring portrait as straightforward as its title, Chavela.

December 8, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

What a wonderful and worthy tribute to a woman who led such a fascinating life.

December 7, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A solid if conventional bio.

October 26, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

As this documentary by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi reveals, Vargas came by her tragic persona honestly.

October 19, 2017 | Full Review…

A fond but clear-eyed tribute.

October 19, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The film marvels with her but doesn't have much of an answer. But we do get performances. We hear her on record, from in her youth and in cabaret and concert appearances from late in her life. Every note has majesty.

October 5, 2017 | Full Review…

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