Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    80
    Wholly one-third of the country, some 11 million people, watched the finale. Marking's film is too astute to pretend that such fleeting things can bring about peaceful democracy, but it's also perfectly aware that they certainly can't hurt.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    100
    One of the most hopeful and heart-rending movies I've seen this year.
  3. Of all the films to come out the conflict, Afghan Star is the most provocative, because its message that people are essentially the same is a dubious, double-edge sword.
  4. Reviewed by: Whitney Borup
    80
    An inspiring, fun documentary.
  5. Fascinating and, when you see Afghan versions of Simon Cowell and Co. reacting to tryouts, a reminder of how fame and the thirst for it is the same in any language.
  6. 67
    One of the more surreal docs to come down the pike in some time.
  7. The movie uses the talent show Afghan Star as a prism through which to examine the fragmented tribal culture of Afghanistan as reflected in the backgrounds of four finalists (two of them women) and the public responses to their performances.
  8. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    70
    Marking follows the finalists around on the last leg of their PR campaigns and captures something sweetly goofy, with an edge of creepy, about their aping of smarmy American self-promotion (kissing babies, etc).
  9. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    70
    Not the slickest or most crowd-pleasing among many recent performance-competition docus, it's nonetheless absorbing for the light it casts on those many Afghanis who want an end to guns and fanaticism, and the return of a social liberalism.
  10. 83
    If nothing else, Afghan Star offers a reminder of how much has changed in Afghanistan from the late ’70s--when Kabul was a secular-oriented city with co-ed universities and a thriving nightclub scene--to the rise of the Taliban.
  11. Judging from this film, a pop cultural resurgence in Afghanistan seems ultimately unstoppable, even with a resurgent Taliban, if for no other reason than that 60 percent of the population is under 21. Also, this is a country, as we see again and again, that loves to sing.
  12. 75
    Focusing on the contestants who make the initial cut -- two men and two women -- the film can't resist wringing some American Idol-style suspense from speculation about who the eventual victor will be. But the movie also leaves no doubt as to who the real winners are.
  13. 75
    The show works pretty much the same as "Idol" does, with Afghans voting by cellphone for their favorite performers. But this is Afghanistan, where the Taliban still has power, not America.
  14. The movie documents much more than a talent competition -- it documents a political movement.
  15. If you believe that bringing the questionable virtues of "American Idol" to Afghanistan would do that beleaguered nation no favors, the remarkable documentary Afghan Star will change your mind in an instant.
  16. 80
    Afghan Star goes much deeper, eloquently conveying the tensions, small victories and shattering setbacks of a fragile democracy struggling to regain a once-flourishing culture.

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