Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Block's hypnotic documentary, among the finest of the year.
  2. 51 Birch Street, like the best of the recent wave of personal documentaries, is both a compelling story and an eye-opening bit of social history.
  3. A warm and honest portrait of a marriage at its most mysterious, and ordinary.
  4. 88
    Through haunting home movies, Mina's diaries and interviews with Mike, a raw, riveting portrait emerges of what a child sees in his parents' relationship and what lies beneath.
  5. 80
    Block has made a sad, delightful and half-accidental movie about his own parents.
  6. 80
    Open-minded, probing but never prurient, 51 Birch Street is much more than a portrait of suburban ennui. It's a loving, painful map of the gulf between thought and word, between word and deed, that props up good marriages, and sends bad ones to hell.
  7. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    80
    What makes 51 Birch Street a moving revelation rather than a therapeutic exercise is Block's commitment to understanding his parents, Mike and Mina, on their own terms, regardless of what it does to his image of them.
  8. 80
    Mr. Block has put his parents’ life, and his own, into this film with such warmth and candor that it may take more than one viewing to recognize it as a work of art.
  9. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    80
    A tonal triumph of true-life storytelling told with equal measures of tension and redemption.
  10. 80
    Block, an experienced documentarian, does an outstanding job walking the knife-edge between personal and self-absorbed.
  11. The film has a compelling way about it. All five of the immediate Block family members emerge in full and affecting portraits.
  12. The intimate history of Doug Block's parents becomes fodder for a broader look at family secrets in this complex documentary.
  13. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    What's best about Block's documentary is how well he captures his own shifting perceptions.
  14. Reviewed by: Melissa Levine
    70
    Begins shakily, with a naked self-consciousness that can be off-putting, but quickly develops into an absorbing and ever deepening drama.
  15. This isn't always adept as storytelling, and Block's coming to terms with his own denseness occasionally tries one's patience, but he manages to make the overall process of his reeducation fascinating and compelling.
  16. 42
    The joys of watching a man carry out his own therapy onscreen are fairly limited.

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