The yr is 2019 and protests in Colombia — the biggest the nation has seen in many years — have erupted in opposition to the federal government of President Iván Duque. The killing of 18-year-old Dilan Cruz by a police projectile makes its method into the reggaeton star J Balvin’s Instagram feed, which exacerbates his particular person disaster.
It appears Balvin wasn’t sleeping effectively. In the times main as much as a sold-out live performance on Nov. 30, 2019, in his hometown, Medellín, he begins to contemplate his tasks as a public determine. Social media customers criticize his political disengagement, whereas uprisings within the metropolis threaten to cancel his large evening.
In “The Boy from Medellín” on Amazon Prime Video, the director Matthew Heineman captures per week within the lifetime of Balvin, the Prince of Reggaeton, a charismatic performer who seems to be privately diffident.
Known for his gritty documentaries about worldwide conflicts (“Cartel Land,” “City of Ghosts”), Heineman delivers a comparatively refined type of celeb publicity on this movie, armed with gorgeous live performance footage however unoriginal insights into the burdens of recent fame, like the problem of balancing the expectations of followers with private wishes.
At the very least, attending a J Balvin present seems like it will be nice enjoyable.
Heineman weaves collectively clips from Balvin’s youth — his scrappy origins within the native music scene — with snapshots into his chaotic current. As the live performance approaches, Balvin appears to be both on the verge of a panic assault or meditating with the assistance of his religious adviser. Destigmatizing psychological sickness is a vital trigger for Balvin, for causes made intimately obvious.
Similar current mythmaking tasks like Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” and Taylor Swift’s “Miss Americana” have generated their very own publicity by giving entry to curated variations of the non-public lives of musicians, which makes them appear actual and relatable. In “The Boy from Medellín,” this curation is clear.
Before Balvin hits the stage, his supervisor urges him to talk out and cites the activist roots of the American rap group N.W.A. I couldn’t assist however chuckle on the comparability, for the reason that artists liable for specific protest anthems most likely didn’t want any encouragement to precise their opinions. In “getting political,” Balvin dangers alienating some followers, however he stands to win some as effectively — the viewers of this documentary, for example.
The Boy from Medellín
Rated R for language. In Spanish and English, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.