Tears are shed on- and offstage in this documentary on the 2011 Town Hall tribute concert to Kate McGarrigle—and how couldn’t they be? Her children, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, lead the musical celebration of this beloved artist, along with her sisters Anna and Jane McGarrigle, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones and Antony Hegarty; family friend Jimmy Fallon offers a stirring account of what the legendary folk singer meant to him. There’s footage of her kids singing a Christmas carol—the same recording that was played to Kate just before she passed away from cancer in 2010. And then there are the songs themselves, characterized by a melancholy longing that’s light as a summer breeze, contemplating red-cheeked crushes, naked swims and lost summers.
Unless you’re familiar with McGarrigle’s career, however, you may find it jarring to be plopped right in the middle of the concert with little in the way of background information. The film inconsistently switches between black-and-white and color, weaving present-day scenes with glimpses of McGarrigle’s life via vintage Super-8 footage and photographs. It’s a nice touch, but given that the entire show and film is dedicated to McGarrigle, you wish this exquisitely made, undeniably moving family album featured even more of the singer herself.
Follow Sophie Harris on Twitter: @SophieMeve