Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Aug 2, 2012
    100
    Alison Klayman's documentary is one of the most engagingly powerful movies of the year almost completely on the strength of Ai's rumpled charisma and the confusion it creates in the bureaucratic mindset of the Chinese Communist Party.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 25, 2012
    100
    The Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has achieved a prominence that makes him, in effect, the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of the Twitter age. He's also the least stuffy of dissidents, and Alison Klayman's stirring, important documentary catches his complex humanity.
  3. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Jul 26, 2012
    91
    'Never Sorry' feels borderline unfinished, as it never draws that line between Ai Weiwei and the generation of successors to his throne that he has inspired. Perhaps it doesn't have to. Perhaps you're already one of them.
  4. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Aug 9, 2012
    90
    The metaphor is plain yet elegant: Ai is the clever cat busily devising ways to push through the barriers physical, cultural, mental -- that make humans less than free. And in China, of course, the biggest of those barriers is the one-party state.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Aug 5, 2012
    90
    Watching Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is like experiencing a thrilling unfinished symphony: The story is enthralling, but it's not over, and there's no telling where it's going. Which makes what we see on screen all the more involving.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 28, 2012
    90
    Klayman's riveting, vérité-style film captures this burly, bigger-than-life figure over the past three years, as his activism has heightened, his art has grown increasingly confrontational and he has deliberately blurred the distinction between aesthetics and politics.
  7. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jul 26, 2012
    90
    The fluidity and convenience of digital moviemaking tools explain some of its freshness, as does Ms. Klayman's history as a budding documentarian. It's clear from watching both the feature and its earlier iterations that, while she was learning about Mr. Ai, she was also learning how to tell a visual story. It's easy to think that hanging around Mr. Ai, a brilliant Conceptual artist and an equally great mass-media interpolater, played a part in her education.
  8. 88
    Ai Weiwei comes off as a man on a singular mission: to record the life around him before it is erased or distorted by a repressive government terrified by the smallest sign of nonconformity. His primary weapons: video cameras and Twitter.
  9. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jul 27, 2012
    85
    Ai is a great movie subject for many reasons, but one is that he understands the power of appearing larger than life on the silver screen.
  10. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 2, 2012
    83
    You come away with an appreciation of the abstraction, scale and daring of Ai's art and, even more, a sense of the living man in his courage, humor and restlessness. It's an invigorating experience.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jul 28, 2012
    83
    The title captures the man. He makes no apologies.
  12. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 26, 2012
    83
    Recently released from jail, Ai's full story remains to be told, but Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry competently summarizes his lasting relevance, regardless of what may happen next.
  13. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Jul 25, 2012
    83
    Klayman captures the earlier parts of that story so compellingly that the finale's "to be continued" quality ends up playing into the film's unspoken goal: raising awareness of one man's ongoing attempts to better the world through art.
  14. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Jul 30, 2012
    80
    The finale, as Ai's Twitter tirades lead to a serious human-rights breach, will make your blood boil.
  15. 80
    Journalist and director Allison Klayman doesn't mask her awe of the man, who comes off as a cross between a wise Buddha-figure and Santa Claus - he's made for history, and he's making it.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 26, 2012
    80
    His is a special kind of courage, and it impels him to act with special agility in a brave new world of his own making, where little tweets can challenge big lies and a blog post can echo like thunder.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew Pulver
    Jul 23, 2012
    80
    Let's hope Klayman gets to make a sequel.
  18. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    Aug 8, 2012
    78
    The documentary is as much a rallying cry for freedom of expression as it is a portrait in progress of an artist whose career is ongoing. Though we might wish for more insight or explanation, Klayman's film remains an incredible document of a courageous individual who the Chinese officials would prefer to make disappear.
  19. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 16, 2012
    75
    The best artists - the ones whose work endures and matters and changes the world - are often troublemakers who challenge the status quo. Out of their defiance comes art. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, director Alison Klayman's riveting documentary of the esteemed Chinese sculptor/painter/iconoclast, is practically a handbook on social rebellion.
  20. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Aug 2, 2012
    75
    The only artwork by Ai that Klayman's film dwells on at any length -- aside from the iconic "bird's nest" stadium he helped design for the Beijing Olympics, and then denounced as tasteless -- is "Sunflower Seeds." Created for a 2010 exhibition at London's Tate Modern, the installation featured 100 million hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds spread out on the floor.
  21. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Jul 27, 2012
    75
    Ai is his country's most celebrated avant-garde artist - he's had shows around the world, including in New York, where he lived as a student - and China's most outspoken dissident.
  22. Reviewed by: Guy Dixon
    Jul 27, 2012
    75
    Yet the most startling scene in the film is when he returns home after confinement. He politely tells the journalists waiting outside his home studio that he is on bail and can not talk. He smiles and repeatedly declines to comment. It is utterly contrary to his true character.
  23. Reviewed by: Kenneth Baker
    Jul 26, 2012
    75
    Klayman has already shown us Ai challenging the authorities on various fronts, most grippingly in a confrontation with the Chengdu police officer who had given him a potentially fatal head injury.
  24. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jul 23, 2012
    75
    The director's clear-minded approach allows her subject's more challenging aesthetic-political mix to shine through, even if it's at the inevitable expense of her own filmmaking proclivities.
  25. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Aug 6, 2012
    60
    Klayman exploits the opportunity to follow a man at the eye of a cultural and political storm, although more detail on his creative process and private life would have welcome.
  26. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jul 26, 2012
    60
    Alison Klayman's chronicle of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is so straightforward that one can't help wishing the subject would make his own, more complex cinematic self-portrait. But for now, Klayman has provided a valuable introduction to a man everyone should know.
  27. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jul 24, 2012
    60
    Ai is a great subject for a documentary, and his charismatic certitude helps to offset Klayman's unfortunate inexperience behind the camera.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jul 23, 2012
    50
    The film is a good start, but such an important artist deserves a more rigorous portrait.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Nov 20, 2012
    6
    Ai Weiwei is an internationally acclaimed Chinese artist-activist who is provocatively condemning his motherland government for grave social underbellies (in light of an unbalanced economy acceleration) as corruption nonfeasance and misfeasance among officials, systematic injustice, moral languor and freedom repression (a focal point is the aftermath of Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, whose casualties are over 80,000, among which are many children stayed inside shoddily-built school buildings) and valiantly spearheading (not the least in the artist field) a new wave of self-awakening among his fellow compatriots, which has promptly wrought government Full Review »
  2. Jan 1, 2013
    6
    It's a pretty standard documentary that gives you all the necessary information about Weiwei's past, why he's important, what his methods are, how he functions in China, and so on. But that's all you get here: facts, explanations and the artist's inscrutable, bearded face. At one point we learn that even though Weiwei is married, he has a son with another woman. "It happens," he explains reluctantly. We never get to hear the women talk about that. The film always maintains a respectful distance from its subject, and while it tells a story that absolutely had to be told, this neutral style makes the experience much less engaging than it could have been. Full Review »