×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gypsy Davy

Everyone's family has drama, complexity and intrigue, but in just about any related contest, Rachel Leah Jones would win.

With:
With: David Serna Jones, Rachel Leah Jones, Judith Jones, Cynthia Johnston, Claire Chinoy, Mallory Pred, Maria Guitron, Martin David Jones, Pablo Martin Jones, Ana Nandi Elaya Chinoy. (English, Spanish dialogue)

Everyone’s family has drama, complexity and intrigue, but in just about any related contest, Rachel Leah Jones would win. Repping a shift into autobiographical terrain after the social-justice issues of her prior docs, “Gypsy Davy” buzzes around the still-growing biological legacy of Jones’ father, a renowned flamenco guitarist who has pollinated many a female flower. Structured not chronologically but in a way that decades-old family secrets continue to unfold and surprise well into the pic’s progress, this fascinating, ambivalent coming-to-terms should hook viewers in plenty of territories, particularly via upscale broadcasters.

A Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche presentation in association with Channel 8-HOT. Produced by Bellaiche, Jones.

Making clear her ambivalent emotions from the start, her voiceover narration a frequently accusatory letter to Dad, the U.S.-born Israeli helmer begins about a decade ago, as she visits her father for the first time in several semi-estranged years — the occasion being that he’s suffered a broken pelvis and shattered wrist. “I thought, ‘He’s broken the only things he knows how to use,'” she snaps. The wrist part is key to David Jones’ successful reinvention of himself as David Serva, a “gypsy” guitarist discovered a half-century ago by master/mentor Diego el del Gastor during a youthful pilgrimage to Andalusia.

The pelvis turns out to have had an even longer career, producing five children by five women, some of the latter amateur or professional flamenco dancers, most abandoned to raise their offspring alone when Serva moved on to his next immorata. Only the first spouse left him, prompting the realization that he didn’t have to spend the rest of his life in one relationship. That discovery would cause numerous people a lot of grief, the filmmaker high among them.

“Gypsy Davy” would have been diverting enough if it had painted its titular figure as simply that musician stereotype, the seductive, short-attention-spanned lout. But Serva is more complicated than that, and so is the film. In the end we realize there is indeed some sense of guilt lurking behind his shrugs of “What’s done is done.” The impact of his neglect has differed among his children, ranging from a flamenco-prodigy son to another, Marty Jones, who gave up a highly successful music career (as co-founder of rock group Counting Crows) because he feared repeating his father’s behavior.

Much of this is “stranger than fiction,” all of it as engrossing as a flavorsome, twisty literary novel. Docu is full of colorful personalities (especially the intelligent, headstrong women David had serial long-term involvements with while tomcatting on the side), as well as music — mostly casual performances in cafes and living rooms, but also some archival and recent concert excerpts.

Assembly is excellent, even if much of the material (going back to homemovies) is visually rough. Jones and co-editor Erez Laufer merit special credit for finding a narrative shape as complex as the family tree it charts.

Gypsy Davy

Israel-U.S.-Spain

Production: Directed, written by Rachel Leah Jones.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Philippe Bellaiche, Jones; editors, Jones, Erez Laufer; music, David Serva Jones; sound, Bellaiche, Jones; sound designer, Isaac Cohen. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema -- competing), Jan. 24, 2012. Running time: 96 MIN.

Cast: With: David Serna Jones, Rachel Leah Jones, Judith Jones, Cynthia Johnston, Claire Chinoy, Mallory Pred, Maria Guitron, Martin David Jones, Pablo Martin Jones, Ana Nandi Elaya Chinoy. (English, Spanish dialogue)

More Scene

  • Lilli Cooper Tootsie

    How the 'Tootsie' Musical Was Updated for the #MeToo Era

    Turning the beloved 1982 comedy “Tootsie” into a 21st century musical already seemed like a challenge when work on the adaptation began back in 2016. Then the #MeToo movement revved up — and the writers knew they couldn’t tell Dorothy’s story for a modern audience without it. “It’s different than it was when the movie [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Taylor Swift Time 100 Performance

    Watch Taylor Swift's Time 100 Gala Performance and Speech

    Just two nights out from Taylor Swift D-day spring 2019 — i.e., Thursday’s release of a new single — Swift made an appearance Tuesday at the Time 100 event in New York, where she did not let loose with any spoiler performances of new music but did sing a few fan favorites, including “Style,” “Delicate,” and [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million Monday [...]

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content