On Tour in Mundo Alas: Handicapped Musicians and Empty Uplift


Following a group of handicapped Argentinean musicians as they embark on a 2007–2008 national tour under the stewardship of famed folk artist León Gieco, Mundo Alas (co-directed by Gieco) presents feel-good sentimentality without depth or nuance. Taking multiple pages from the Spellbound populist-documentary handbook, the film sets its stage with cursory snapshots of its various players—including a wheelchair-bound dancer, a singer with no arms or legs, and a tango troupe whose members have Down syndrome—that reveal scant details about their personalities and day-to-day realities, and even fewer specifics regarding how they came to be associated with Gieco in the first place. Actual insight into these people’s hearts and minds is replaced with skin-deep montages of cheery tour-bus road-tripping, hanging out with friends, and writing songs in the studio. The performances, which culminate with a show at the famed Luna Park, are stirring enough to make the portrait’s superficiality all the more pronounced, the musicians’ accomplishments undercut by the fact that Gieco avoids depicting any genuine adversity. Instead, what his road movie offers is merely nonfiction comfort food that packages his inspiring subjects’ stories into an easy, formulaic triumph-of-the-spirit template.

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