Generally favorable reviews based on 9 Critics
The story is simply told: the rise, fall and comeback of a lesbian trailblazer and soul-crushed singer. Chavela the person is more fascinating than Chavela the film – a tequila-sunrise love letter to an unknown icon.
More than a female singing cowboy, Vargas was ranchera incarnate, whether singing the material of drinking companion Jose Alfredo Jimenez or her own cathartic cries from the heart. The film is a fond but clear-eyed tribute.
The captivating documentary Chavela, directed by Catherine Gund (“Born to Fly”) and Daresha Kyi, mesmerizes with its impressionistic blend of archival photos, musical performances, concert footage and candid interviews with the legendary singer herself, as well with her ardent friends like Pedro Almodóvar and former lovers.