Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    Jan 27, 2014
    100
    A gloriously inspirational film documenting music’s healing power in Alzheimer patients.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jul 31, 2014
    90
    As much a plea to change the system as it is an examination of how music helps individuals, Alive Inside is not the most sophisticated documentary, but its power is indisputable, and it does end on a hopeful note.
  3. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jul 15, 2014
    90
    Practically guaranteed to elicit tears within its first five minutes, Alive Inside... is nonetheless more than just a tearjerker.
  4. Reviewed by: Nikola Grozdanovic
    Jul 24, 2014
    83
    Alive Inside contains a tiny revolution within its message, and will likely end up being one of the most important documentaries of the year.
  5. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Aug 7, 2014
    75
    Questions of politics and policy, even urgent ones, seem pretty dry after watching Henry and the other elderly patients come to life. Those scenes are a revelation.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jul 24, 2014
    75
    As the movie makes clear, none of these conditions are reversible. Music isn’t a cure for anything. But it does seem to be a key to unlocking long-closed doors and establishing connections with people who have become, through age or infirmity, imprisoned inside themselves.
  7. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Aug 14, 2014
    70
    The film is less effective, and less focused, when it switches into activism mode. Not that its heart isn't in the right place — we all know about the appalling state of institutionalized elder care. Which is the problem with those segments: We all know this already, and the filmmaking feels like perfunctory, necessary padding.
  8. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Jan 28, 2014
    70
    Rossato-Bennett’s over-the-top narration often sounds cloying and banal... But the filmmaker succeeds in providing context, medical and historical, in between awakenings.
  9. Reviewed by: Steve Greene
    Jan 27, 2014
    67
    Whether it's purely through the use of music or through the individual, attentive care given by some of the featured nursing home workers, the proof of positive changes presented in "Alive Inside" provide a sense of idealism amid bleak situations.
  10. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Jul 17, 2014
    63
    The doc is heartwarming, but it doesn't delve deeply into the backstories that inform the ailing patients' connection to the music that stirs their memories.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew Lapin
    Jul 15, 2014
    60
    Cohen’s goal—to bring music to every nursing home—is modest, and the film is smart to follow his lead by keeping bombastic rhetoric to a minimum. Strangely, though, the movie lacks any discussion of professional music therapists, who have been doing this kind of work for decades.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Jul 16, 2014
    58
    Alive Inside runs a brisk 78 minutes, but that’s still far more time than it requires to make its point; once you’ve seen a couple of old people suddenly come to life upon hearing “I Get Around” or “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” there’s not much to be gained by being presented with half a dozen more instances.
  13. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Jul 18, 2014
    50
    A passionate documentary with a lot of valuable information to impart, and a laudable humanist agenda to push. Unfortunately, it’s also not a particularly good movie. In fact, at certain points it can be an actively annoying one.
  14. Reviewed by: Nicolas Rapold
    Jul 17, 2014
    50
    Neither the value of music nor the deficiencies of certain nursing homes are tough to debate. But a documentary that never leaves any doubt about what comes next, while single-mindedly stumping for a cause presented as unique, is also not terribly interesting as a film.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Jul 31, 2014
    38
    Unfortunately, though, Rossato-Bennett and Cohen seem to think that the technique is a panacea. In fact, it is not even original, as music therapy in nursing homes has been around for some time.

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