Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love (2009)



Critic Consensus: It never gets close enough to its subject, and it's curiously light on music, but this documentary is nonetheless a long-overdue tribute to a brilliant musician.

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Movie Info

As one of two major documentaries on hotly debated Senegalese world musician Youssou N'Dour to emerge within a year of one another (see also Youssou N'Dour: Return to Gorà (C)e), this particular chronicle was produced and shot over a period of several years. Helmed by director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, it witnesses the evolution and production of N'Dour's June 2004 album Egypt, on the Nonesuch label -- the recording that details N'Dour fully expressing his newfound Muslim faith. A veritable bedrock of controversy, the album courted objections from multiple countries: Americans objected because of their post-9/11 tendencies to attribute Islam to violent extremism; Senegalese DJs and radio-station proprietors objected given the odd discomfiture associated with playing religious music about Allah alongside often-racy selections by other acts. Even more significantly, N'Dour inadvertently carried this controversy a step further by performing live during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan -- thus infuriating Senegalese religious conservatives. The film witnesses N'Dour confronting these challenges head-on and, incredibly, surmounting them with great ease and finesse. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovimore
Rating: PG (for thematic elements and brief smoking)
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 6, 2010
Box Office: $32.6k
Shadow Distribution - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (13)

By far the most powerful element is N'Dour's lone voice, a thing of high, pure beauty that feels at once ancient and new. When he sings, an otherwise earnestly conventional film becomes a vehicle of incantatory power.

Full Review… | October 16, 2009
Washington Post
Top Critic

This documentary by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi could have used more music for my taste, and fewer talking heads. But it's absorbing all the same. N'Dour is the sort of humanitarian bridge that we need in a world so sharply divided.

Full Review… | August 27, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Be sure to stay through the closing credits as the scenes of Senegalese life act as a captivating coda to a film pulsing with music and memory.

August 21, 2009
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

Youssou N'Dour is a beautiful film to watch as it unfolds the life of N'Dour and, by extension, the lives of millions of West Africans who are anonymous to many in the West.

Full Review… | July 31, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

N'Dour is the film's unstoppable force, handsome and radiating joy. He's the kind of performer who is larger than life but always seems like one of the family.

Full Review… | July 16, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Although his movie often resembles the kind of promotional video one might find as an extra on a concert DVD, N'Dour in full throttle is a sight, and sound, to behold.

Full Review… | July 3, 2009
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love

YOUSSOU N'DOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE is a gorgeously photographed, music infused cinematic portrait of world famous Senegalese pop sensation Youssou N?Dour. Best known in the West for his collaborations with Bono and Peter Gabriel, N?Dour is one of the most beloved musicians in pop music and his legendary career has spanned decades.

In 2004, responding to negative perceptions about his Muslim faith, N?Dour recorded EGYPT, a deeply spiritual album dedicated to a more tolerant view of Islam. In a critical and career-defining moment, the album was awarded the 2004 Grammy® for BEST WORLD MUSIC ALBUM. While Western audiences embraced N?Dour?s brave musical message, it encountered a serious religious backlash in his native country of Senegal where N?Dour is considered a national hero. Local critics and the media accused him of insulting Islam, arguing that pop and religious music should not mix.

Combining unprecedented images of Senegal?s most sacred Muslim rituals, vibrant concert performances filmed around the world, and intimate access to N?Dour and his family, I BRING WHAT I LOVE chronicles the difficult path this remarkable artist must take. It is a stirring journey of faith, redemption, and the power of music to overcome intolerance.

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