Love to Love You, Donna Summer (Documentary Review)

Crowned the Queen of Disco in the late ‘70s thanks to a slew of Dance hits, Donna Summer is truly a Pop icon. At a glance, she amassed a total of thirty-two chart singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 in her lifetime which includes fourteen top ten singles and four number one singles. Additionally, she earned herself a global following that made her one of Pop music’s most famous stars of all-time.

However, Summer is so much more than the glossy title of Queen of Disco. A singer, songwriter, and all-around creative human being, she might seem like a novelty to some, but in truth deserves a much closer look. In fact, she deserves a very in-depth look, and that is exactly what the new documentary Love to Love You, Donna Summer offers.

Released to HBO back on May 30, 2023, the new film has an interesting twist most documentaries do not… it features direction from Summer’s own daughter Brooklyn Sudano. An aspect that really adds a personal touch, Brooklyn along with Co-director Roger Ross Williams create a film that is touching, funny, tragic, and heartfelt all at the same time. Additionally, beyond Brooklyn, Summer’s entire family partake in the recollection of her life; this includes her siblings, her husband (Bruce Sudano), and two other daughters (Amanda Sudano and Mimi Sommer).

A film which received three award nominations (Berlin International Film Festival, SXSW Film Festival, and Black Reel Awards for Television), in spite of the accolades, there have been a mixed bag of reviews to follow the release of Love to Love You, Donna Summer. A film some cite as uninteresting, not deep enough, or disjointed, while everyone is entitled to their opinion, perhaps they are missing the true emotion around Love to Love You, Donna Summer. Following Summer’s career from her early beginnings in Germany, you observe her struggles and triumphs before even breaking big in her homeland of the USA. You also get some brief looks into her various relationships, but not too much, and that is perfectly ok.

You see, the entire objective of this film is to uncover the true artistry of Summer as more than just a voice on stage with a pretty face and attractive physical appearance. In that, it is also not intended to nose deeply and invasively into the late performer’s personal relationships. What you do get is a broad picture of who Summer was, where she came from, and what her true intentions were as an entertainer. With this you get a sense that Summer was extremely intelligent, highly artistic, and a great songwriter. Furthermore, through various archrival interviews and home videos, you get a look into how she was a woman who never took herself too seriously, had a flair for theatrics, and had a fantastic sense of humor.

Beyond this, you get to see how deeply her family really loves her. From her husband Bruce’s recounts of her to her daughter’s opening speaking about her, it is obvious how deeply they miss her since her passing over a decade ago in 2012. Each of them speaks like real people, not coached, nor putting on a façade, and that just makes the film that much better. Family is everything, and the love and admiration of your family is more important than any other opinions of you. All this said, Love to Love You, Donna Summer captures these emotions perfectly.

Those looking for some juicy gossip or every gory detail, need look elsewhere. Love to Love You, Donna Summer is a documentary which gives all the insight that you need while still respecting the life, dignity, and privacy of one of music’s biggest names. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Love to Love You, Donna Summer 5 out of 5 stars.

Love to Love You, Donna Summer / HBO (2023)

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