If Fleck weren't such a gracious soul chasing the spirit of Sankofa, this could have been an exercise in exploitation of Graceland-ian proportions. But that's hardly the case on his magical musical mystery tour.
Fleck is an ideal protagonist for a film about the adhesive power of music and inadequacy of speech. Even as the plot sags and he grasps clumsily for words, his fingers on the strings are almost momentum enough.
It's filled with lively, soulful musical performances that keeps you mostly compelled, but it eventually becomes somewhat dull and lacks enough profound insights, which ultimately leaves you feeling underwhelmed.
While it's usually the film that's the treasure and the soundtrack album that makes a nice afterthought, both the documentary and the disc of Throw Down Your Heart justify their existence independently -- and rather beautifully.
The film fails as a personal diary due to Fleck's unflappable aloofness, and the performance footage is rendered unsatisfying by frequent interjections of expository material or cutaways to seaside B-roll that seems photographed for tourist brochures.
It reminds us that, in some of the most remote places in the world, people make beautiful music not as a means to fame and fortune but for a daily source of love and nourishment, like family, food and prayer.