SXSW Film Reviews
Pavarotti of the Plains records the story of Texas legend Don Walser with simple, plainspoken eloquence.
Pavarotti of the Plains: Don Walser's Story
D: TJ Morehouse. (Video, 80 min.)
If you're not from Texas, Don Walser will by-gawd make you wish you were. His voice and his musical vision are as pure as you'll find, and Morehouse's documentary takes an affectionate look at the Big Man through interviews with Willie Nelson, Gary P. Nunn, Rosetta Wills, Jim Lauderdale, and others. It shows Walser to be as honest and warm as that big voice, his scenes punctuated with a high-pitched giggle and, several times, with tears. Morehouse traces Walser's story from his hardscrabble roots in the Panhandle town of Lamesa to his two appearances at the Grand Ole Opry and his NEA Master Heritage Award. Through it all, Walser put his wife and family before his passion for music. Well into his 60s now, he ignores physical ailments (all too evident in the film) to get onstage and charm audiences with that voice of his. He is a touchstone for country music and for a Texas that's changing before our eyes, and Pavarotti of the Plains records his story with simple, plainspoken eloquence. (Paramount, 3/16, 1:30pm)