A documentary about famous Congolese musician Antoine "Wendo" Kolosoy, On the Rumba Riveris filled with warm, intimate close-ups - of Wendo and his compatriots' weathered countenances; of hands playing percussive instruments and strumming guitars; and of bodies joyously swaying in motion to the sounds of Wendo and his band's rumba music. Visual proximity to Wendo lends compassionate heart to this portrait of the now-83-year-old singer, whose sprawling story includes discrimination at the hands of Belgian colonialists, homelessness, and condemnation of his music by the church. Nonetheless, despite director Jacques Sarasin's physical nearness to Wendo, there's something of a remove to his beautifully photographed proceedings, primarily because the film provides only skimpy details on its subject's myriad experiences while almost completely avoiding any substantive discussion of the 30-year dictatorship (under Mobutu Sese Seko) and ongoing civil war that have so profoundly colored the man's life.
categories Reviews, Cinematical