On the Rumba River (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

On the Rumba River (2008)

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Wendo Kolosoy was a former boxer and ship's mechanic from the Congo who in 1948 recorded a song called "Marie Louise" as Papa Wendo. Wendo's music, an infectious blend of Latin and African rhythms, took the nation by storm and he became an overnight star among the Congolese. However, while the sound Wendo created proved to have a lasting influence in the Congo, his own fame waned, and as he slipped into obscurity, he watched the sad history of his nation unfold, as the end of colonialism led to wave after wave of bloody violence. Wendo's music, however, has been discovered by a new generation of music fans, and the aging musician continues to perform as often as he can. Filmmaker Jacques Sarasin follows Wendo Kolosoy as he rehearses with his reunited band for a series of performances and the artist looks back on his past as well as that of the Congo in the documentary On the Rumba River. The film received its North American premiere at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for On the Rumba River

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (6)

Mostly On The Rumba River works best when it sticks to the musical performances, which Sarin films in lengthy scenes built from extreme close-ups of lips, fingers and sweaty skin.

June 6, 2008 | Rating: B
Top Critic

Delightful music alternates with too-brief interviews with Wendo and his colleagues. On the Rumba River cries out for narration to help viewers understand the tragic context of his life.

June 6, 2008 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

You don’t have to be a fan of African tunes to appreciate Jacques Sarasin’s heartfelt ode to Congolese music and its resilient practitioners.

June 6, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/5

An introduction to singer/songwriter Papa Wendo Kolosoy that leaves us feeling like he's an acquaintance we'd like to meet properly.

June 6, 2008 | Rating: 3/5

Director Jacques Sarasin's refusal to supply more than scraps of context -- either about the performers or the politics of the civil-war-torn region -- renders the film narratively limp.

June 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…

As a filmmaker, Sarasin has an extraordinarily light touch.

June 4, 2008 | Full Review…

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