Movie Reviews

Madu Review: A Story Of Resilience And Ballet Dreams

The documentary delves into the challenges he faces, leaving his homeland to pursue his dreams of becoming a renowned ballet principal.

Madu review
Madu [PHOTO CREDIT: Disney Plus]

Here’s our Madu review! Released on March 29, 2024, ‘Madu’ is a non-fiction Disney+ documentary film Directed by Mathew Ogens and Joel Kachi Benson recounting the remarkable journey of Anthony Madu, a young ballet dancer from Lagos, Nigeria.

From discovering his passion for dance at a tender age to gaining international recognition after a viral video showcased his talent, Anthony’s life has taken a transformative path. The attention garnered led to a scholarship at England’s prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School. As Anthony embarks on this new chapter, the documentary delves into the challenges he faces, leaving his homeland to pursue his dreams of becoming a renowned ballet principal. Join us as we uncover the hurdles and complexities Anthony encounters on his journey.

Plot

In a non-fiction documentary, the anticipation of intricate plot twists may be minimal, but viewers can certainly anticipate nuanced character development. This certainly holds for the ‘Madu’ documentary. The film opens by immersing us in Anthony’s childhood before the momentous event of his dance video going viral.

Anthony, a young child who loves to dance, has developed a keen interest in ballet. Even though Nigeria is a place where the prevalence of ballet dancers or individuals flourishing in their ballet careers is not common, it would be inaccurate to suggest that ballet is widely unaccepted, as portrayed in the documentary. In Nigeria, ballet is perceived as a predominantly feminine activity, And so for someone with limited exposure to witness a boy engaging in balletic movements typically associated with females, it is only normal if they react negatively. It is widely recognized that access to ballet schools even in foreign countries is limited to the elite due to the high cost associated with them. Therefore, Anthony’s struggle to find a reputable ballet school in Nigeria to nurture his exceptional talent may be considered typical. However, the mistreatment and bullying he endured from his peers in Nigeria due to his interest in ballet is unequivocally unacceptable.

When Anthony’s parents discovered his love for ballet, they ensured that he was placed in a new neighbourhood where he could nurture his dreams.  Anthony was enrolled in a local ballet class within their community. This pivotal moment marked a significant turning point in Anthony’s journey as a ballet dancer. Subsequently, Anthony’s teacher captured a mesmerizing video of him dancing gracefully in the rain, which was shared on Instagram and went viral in 2020. This video caught the attention of prestigious ballet institutions, including the renowned  Elmhurst Ballet School in England, leading to Anthony being offered a scholarship. However, for viewers unfamiliar with Anthony’s backstory of grass to grace, understanding or relating to his journey may have posed challenges, as the producers did not adequately delve into this aspect.

Another aspect that might have sparked curiosity for those unaware of the backstory is, “How did Anthony’s dance video achieve viral status?” This leads to the concerning issue of Anthony’s teacher not receiving any positive recognition aside from being labelled as ‘abusive.’ While it’s entirely unacceptable, it’s only reasonable for Anthony’s teacher to be credited to some extent for Anthony’s transformative experience, given that the teacher played a pivotal role in the video going viral.

The strong bond between Anthony and his family is palpable throughout the documentary. The emotional airport scene, depicting Anthony’s departure for England, evokes a powerful mix of emotions. One cannot overlook the joy and pain evident in his mother’s eyes as she watches her son leave for a foreign country, embarking on a new journey without any familiar companions. This poignant moment raises a question: Wouldn’t it have been more reasonable, especially considering Anthony’s status as a minor, to extend the visa to include at least one relative who could act as Anthony’s guardian?

Upon arriving in England, Anthony faced initial challenges adjusting to the new environment, unfamiliar faces, and weather conditions. However, his adaptability soon shone through as he forged meaningful connections with supportive friends, teachers, and instructors at the school.

Madu Review - Anthony Madu
A scene from ‘Madu’, a movie by Disney+ [PHOTO CREDIT: Variety]

Renowned for his hard work, resilience, and determination in pursuing his passion for ballet, Anthony’s journey took an unexpected turn when he experienced complete vision loss in his right eye and partial loss in his left. This news deeply affected Anthony, prompting the school authorities to sponsor him on a trip to visit his family in Nigeria in hopes of finding solace and improving his mental well-being. Unfortunately, this visit did little to alleviate his struggles, as Anthony struggled to reconnect with the local community amidst heightened pressure and anxiety.

Facing challenges with mental health support, Anthony’s mother, perhaps unaware of its importance, advised him to seek guidance from a “prophet” instead of seeing a therapist when he requested one. This situation reflects the limited prioritization of mental health and therapy within Nigerian culture, presenting additional hurdles for Anthony on his journey.

In Anthony’s story, we witness firsthand his resilience and unwavering determination in the face of adversity. Despite grappling with vision loss, Anthony refused to succumb to despair, using his challenges as fuel to propel himself further in his ballet career. Additionally, the unwavering support of the school played a crucial role in Anthony’s journey, providing him with the necessary encouragement and assistance to navigate through his struggles and emerge stronger.

Cast

One commendable aspect of this documentary is the natural composure exhibited by Anthony’s family, giving the impression that no cameras were present during filming.

Additionally, Ifeoma Madu excelled in portraying her natural roles and duties as a mother, adding authenticity to the documentary.

Language

In this documentary, English serves as the predominant language; however, Anthony’s rapid accent shift within two weeks of Leaving for England is an intriguing anomaly. This unexpected alteration suggests a level of wit and intelligence in Anthony that captivates viewers and prompts further exploration of his adaptability.

‘Madu’ is a poignant portrayal of one individual’s journey to pursue his passion for ballet, navigating societal norms and personal challenges along the way. Despite narrative gaps, the Documentary captures Anthony’s resilience and the invaluable support of his community. For a heartfelt story of perseverance and the pursuit of dreams, ‘Madu’ earns commendation.

Madu review
5.2
Review Overview
Summary

Despite narrative gaps, the Documentary captures Anthony’s resilience and the invaluable support of his community. For a heartfelt story of perseverance and the pursuit of dreams, ‘Madu’ earns commendation.

  • Costumes 4
  • Casting 6
  • Plot 4
  • Setting 6
  • Story6
WATCH 'MADU' ON DISNEY+

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