GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND Review – An Intimate Documentary About a Canadian Treasure

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Critic Staci Layne Wilson’s Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind review says the film will satisfy fans and have a new generation falling in love with this singer-songwriter.

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind reviewGordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind starts with a cinematic slap in the face. The gaunt, cigarette-smoking 80-year-old singer-songwriter unabashedly cusses out one of his hits, For Lovin’ Me. “I hate that [expletive] song,” he growls, adding that he stopped performing it decades ago because of its sexist lyrics. But hey, it was the seventies. That’s how it was. Then again, he wrote the thing so if anyone is going to retroactively ban it, it might as well be him!

Most fans of the iconic Canadian folk-rock artist will remember him from that less-evolved but undeniably more creative era—the seventies. His AF/FM radio-friendly voice and gentle guitar strums were perfect for tunes like Sundown, Rainy Day People, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and of course, the title track If You Could Read Mind.

Directors Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni were granted total access to Lightfoot in order to chart his “profound evolution from Christian choirboy to troubled troubadour” giving the movie an intimate, homespun feel.

Gord (as his friends call him), still lives in Canada and putters around his house tending to his six-string kids. We get to see him driving around on errands, checking out old clubs where he performed as a young man, smoking, venting, and reminiscing. This footage is intercut with the expected talking head commentators (mostly other superstar Canucks, like Anne Murray, Randy Bachman, Geddy Lee, and Sarah McLachlan), as well as vintage footage of Lightfoot onstage, backstage, and places in between.

I’m a big music fan, but only a casual listener of Lightfoot. I love the chart-toppers, but don’t know any of his other songs. Before delving into Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind I knew nada about his personal life. So, I learned a lot. Devotees may not glean as much about the legend as I did, but they’re bound to enjoy this intimate look at the long life of a man who is still here to reflect on his times.

While documentaries made without the cooperation of their subjects may be inherently more objective, I have no problem with “cinematic autobiographies” such as this one. The movie makes for a satisfying mix of personal dirt and professional glory. Recommended.

1 Hour 31 Minutes
Rated NR

Does this Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind movie review make you want to rock out? It’s set for a July 1, 2020 streaming release. Check Rotten Tomatoes for updates.

Critic Staci Layne Wilson’s Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind review says the film will satisfy fans and have a new generation falling in love with this singer-songwriter.


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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on StaciLayneWilson.com

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GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND Review – An Intimate Documentary About a Canadian Treasure