Director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi takes a trip round the world with the beloved Senegalese pop superstar, who, as a deeply spiritual Muslim, earned both praise and backlash around the world when he dedicated his music to espousing a more tolerant view of Islam.
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Youssou Ndour's music is beautiful, and the film is beautiful. The film does show how, paradoxically, his inclusion of religious devotion in his music caused him the kind of vicious backlash that only religion is capable of provoking. The film depicts the ritual slaughter of a goat, some of you may not appreciate that. I understand that this happens, and that people eat goat; I just prefer not to see the slaughter.
This movie is not limited to Youssou N'Dour fans and in order to prove it, I'd say that the first 3 minutes are definitive for anyone's decision to watch it or not.
It worked for me, one who didn't know anything other than the hit "7 Seconds"! Before those 3 min, I already had one goal, though: to appreciate the opportunity of yet another view on Islam and the effort of Youssou on breaking some boundaries within it.
This is an engrossing look into pieces of this Senegalese singer's life. More expansive and fluid than a documentary. I did like learning the backstory and how events shape his music, but the best parts are the music, straight and pure. The film is well named.
To call this a documentary about a musician would be limiting. Its narrative, the journey of an artist breaking religious barriers, reaching his potential and destroying every constructed idea about the limits of music is nothing short of a miracle. This film is so well crafted from the very personal perspective of a great artist Youssou Ndour who only brings what he loves; music as the path to personal liberation.
I am very glad that a documentary was finally made about this amazing artist, even though I would have appreciated more music and a bit more of an examination of the harder questions concerning free speech and modern Islam. But overall a touching, honest tribute to a great musician.
Beautiful cinematography, esp the footage during the closing credits. Of course, beautiful music and wonderful person. The backstory of and reception to Ndour's recording Egypt, is really interesting, but the film's arc has an amorphous quality that sometimes led to my attention wandering. Worthwhile nonetheless. 3.5 stars