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Feeling The Love: A Review Of LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER

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Love to Love You, Donna Summer, co-directed by Brooklyn Sudano (her daughter) and Roger Ross Williams for HBO, is a mesmerizing study of the late so-called Queen of Disco, one that teases out the many layers of who Summer really was — a person guaranteed to surprise all but her most attentive fans.

Summer was a church girl, she was an actress who slipped easily into the role of sex kitten (like a more grounded Marilyn Monroe), she was a loner, she was a careerist, she was an obsessive creator and, as the film touchingly reveals, she was a reluctant mom.

Captured in pristine, wisely curated footage speaking as eloquently as any artist in any medium about her craft, Summer's prowess as a writer and singer — a true musician, not a disco dolly — is the priority of the directors, but there is also an emphasis on the contradictory nature of her sexuality, which seems to have been the result of a strict Christian upbringing, a playful desire to be a chameleon, unresolved issues regarding sexual abuse in her teens and, later, a mid-life crisis.

It is a blessing that her daughter was not too shy or squeamish to fully explore her mom's sexualized image — not only does the doc's title hint at this, the entire opening sequence is an unflinching and almost otherworldly, unblinking peek at her orgasmic “Love to Love You Baby.” The opening and many other parts of the film veer from straight biography into an art-driven indulgence in visual beauty.

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