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film review
  • Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
  • Directed by Joan Tosoni and Martha Kehoe
  • Starring: Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan, Sylvia Tyson and Ian Tyson
  • Classification: PG; 90 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

Oddly missing from the documentary is anything on Lightfoot’s near death in 2002.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

What’s left to say about Gordon Lightfoot, the Early Morning Rain balladeer and stoic Canadian who has weathered decades of examination? Plenty, but a new biodoc on him doesn’t dig too deep into the darker crevices of the man’s life.

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Instead, we get an entertaining but superficial and laudatory overview of one of his country’s greatest singer-songwriters. Archival film of a young Lightfoot crooning about trains at the long-gone Riverboat Coffee House will thrill the old folkies. Pressed into talking-head service, Burton Cummings, Steve Earle and, yes, actor Alec Baldwin testify on Lightfoot’s behalf. Just Murray McLauchlan hints at his fellow songster’s gloom.

Of Lightfoot’s former wives and lovers, only onetime girlfriend Cathy Smith is heard from – and she’s subtly vilified. Oddly missing is anything on Lightfoot’s near death in 2002. Instead there’s footage of the Captain Canada troubadour canoeing, in a film that is not interested in tipping any boats.

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind opens May 24.