“The Boy From Medellin” is a documentary that follows a week in Colombian singer J Balvín’s (José Álvaro Osorio Balvín) life as he prepares for his first major show in his hometown, Medellin, Colombia. The documentary about this crazy week was shot in just 14 days and covers a stressful time in Balvín’s life.
The documentary starts by giving the backstory of how Balvín’s career began and the work that he put into becoming a global superstar and Grammy award winner that he is today.
Growing up in Medellin, Balvín was a part of a middle-class family. This resulted in him living with a foot in two different worlds: His rich friends considered him to be poor, while his poor friends thought of him as rich. Balvín, however, just wanted to chase his dreams.
When he came of age, Balvín moved to Miami in an attempt to make something out of his music career. While there he struggled to make a name for himself, taking odd jobs to survive and singing every chance he got.
After a few years of not being able to make it, Balvín returned home where he began to grow into a national star in Colombia.
What was interesting about this part of the documentary was the old video clips and photos they used. It did a great job of adding color to the stories that Balvín was telling. The flashy ‘90s and early 2000s clothes gave me a good chuckle too.
While he was in Miami, Balvín began realizing that he suffered from anxiety and depression, something he still fights to this day.
The documentary shows this struggle with his mental illnesses in a very raw way. When he has a panic attack before his show, they do not cut away and Balvín does not ask the cameras for space. Instead, they show exactly what he is going through.
Balvín has been outspoken about mental illnesses for a long time, and it was encouraging to see him make it such a big part of his documentary.
“The Boy From Medellin” was being shot while protests were going on in Colombia. The youth in the country were protesting the Colombian president and demanding improvements to their health care and education systems.
The documentary depicts the struggle that Balvín has deciding whether or not he should speak out on this. He knows that he has an influence on youth in his nation, but he did not want to be a politician; he just wanted to perform.
As far as documentaries go, this one does a good job of getting your attention early with the story that it tells. Hearing about Balvín and his life growing up trying to get recognized for his work is fascinating. Going into it I had no idea who Balvín was, I only recognized a few of his songs, and at its conclusion I found myself looking for more of his work.
Balvín was extremely open with everything in his life in this documentary and shared a lot about himself.
What was interesting was the anecdote that Balvín gave about singing his songs in Spanish. Producers in the U.S. told him that he would never become a global superstar if he did not sing his songs in English, as his music would not reach enough people.
Balvín made the decision to continue to produce his music in Spanish and has reached the global level of superstardom that he dreamed of as a child.
The documentary is a mix of Balvín speaking in English and Spanish, with English subtitles. It gives the story a feeling of authenticity watching him speak in his mother language with his friends and family as he is struggling with the events taking place around him and in the city he was raised in.
Amazon did a good job of putting this documentary together, but it could have been better if they had more than just Balvín’s perspective on things. I found myself wanting to get more perspective on different parts of his life. I often was wondering what his parents or close friends thought of the events going on in his life.
Yes, he was very open with a lot of the information that he shared, but it was only him giving the information. I know it was shot in two weeks and it is difficult to find multiple sources and schedule interviews in that short of time, but hearing from others could have made the documentary so much better.
Overall this documentary was good with the cinematic b-roll that they used and how they tell his story through older footage. I wouldn’t rush to go see it, but if you have nothing else to watch, give it a try — you won’t be disappointed. It is now available on Amazon’s streaming service.