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77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Benda Bilili! follows an unlikely group of musicians in Kinshasa, capital of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The band, Staff Benda Bilili—in English, “look beyond”—is a group of street musicians composed of four paraplegics and three able-bodied men. The core of the group is four singer/guitarists polio, who use customized tricycles to get around: Ricky, the eldest and a co-founding member of the band; Coco, the band’s composer and co-founding member with Ricky; Junana, the member most disabled by polio, yet the official choreographer; and Coude, a bass player and soprano singer. Joining them is a young and entirely acoustic rhythm section, led by Roger, a teenage prodigy on the satongé, a one-string guitar he designed and built himself out of a tin can. (National Geographic Cinema Ventures) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Oct 1, 2011
    91
    This unsentimental, smartly assembled film is equally attentive to the cacophony of African poverty and the balm of harmony provided by these pied pipers of hope.
  2. Reviewed by: David DeWitt
    Sep 29, 2011
    90
    Benda Bilili! is brutally real, a document of willpower that shows not only the magic of transcendence - which may be fleeting - but also the transformation of aspiring to it, every struggling step of the way.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 6, 2011
    90
    Benda Bilili! earns its exclamation point. It's a feel-good movie that actually makes you feel good, a story that will have you shaking your head in astonishment and moving your feet to some unstoppable rhythms.
  4. Reviewed by: Philip Wilding
    Sep 25, 2011
    80
    Wielding inspiration and uplift in equal measure, this musical odyssey is one of the cinematic journeys of the year. Don't miss it.
  5. 75
    An unabashed crowd-pleaser.
  6. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Sep 25, 2011
    70
    Audiences will find the group's triumph inspiring.
  7. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Sep 27, 2011
    40
    It may be petty to dismiss such a rags-to-much-better-rags story, but given how manipulatively constructed this music doc is, even in its rawest moments, you still leave feeling like you've been played.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

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