Benda Bilili! Reviews

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Andrew Schenker
Slant Magazine
September 25, 2011
Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye's documentary falters by adopting too much of a celebratory tone.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
David Fear
Time Out
September 27, 2011
Given how manipulatively constructed this music doc is, even in its rawest moments, you still leave feeling like you've been played.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
David DeWitt
New York Times
September 29, 2011
"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.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Stephanie Merry
Washington Post
October 14, 2011
Staff Benda Bilili's unlikely triumph is an epic feat, with or without anyone's help.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Prudence Ivey
Little White Lies
March 17, 2011
A lesson in making the most of what you've got.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Neil Spencer
Uncut Magazine [UK]
March 23, 2011
An intimate, shocking but ultimately exhilarating portrait of suffering and dignity.
Radheyan Simonpillai
NOW Toronto
October 14, 2011
The music speaks volumes about who they are and where they come from.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Philip Wilding
Empire Magazine
March 14, 2011
Wielding inspiration and uplift in equal measure, this musical odyssey is one of the cinematic journeys of the year. Don't miss it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Tom Huddleston
Time Out
March 16, 2011
An uplifting, understated and wholly engaging insight into a world entirely unlike our own...
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
October 14, 2011
From out of the gloom comes the hypnotic grooves of a band called Staff Benda Bilili. The name means "look beyond appearances," and the members of this remarkable musical collective do just that.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Nigel Andrews
Financial Times
March 17, 2011
The place looks terrifyingly cold. The music, and the musicians' big-hearted charm, keep us warm.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Anthony Quinn
Independent
March 18, 2011
The term "life-affirming" has lost its significance through overuse; this documentary restores us to its real meaning.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Laura Clifford
Reeling Reviews
September 27, 2011
...engrossing, often funny and always danceable. If you think you've got problems, watch what this extremely disadvantaged group of people are able to make of their lives and be humbled.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Robin Clifford
Reeling Reviews
October 3, 2011
The tenacity of the homeless musicians in bringing their music to life, with the filmmakers' help, is an inspiration.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
September 29, 2011
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.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
David Edwards
Daily Mirror [UK]
March 18, 2011
Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Slumdog Millionaire, it's every bit as heartwarming.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Jennie Kermode
Eye for Film
February 7, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
March 21, 2011
The film is a little short of information and details at times, but it's a compelling and inspiring story all the same.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Philip French
Guardian
March 22, 2011
[A] heartwarming, rough-and-ready Franco-Belgian documentary...
Neil Smith
Total Film
March 10, 2011
Take the Buena Vista Social Club, add some wheelchairs and you have Staff Benda Bilili...
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Jay Weissberg
Variety
February 23, 2012
Top Critic

New York Times
January 7, 2012
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