Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
Watch On
  1. Margaret Brown's honest and non-judgmental film captures the artist's high and low points, from early appearances on regional television shows such as "Nashville Now" to the drunken and disorderly performances that defined his later years.
  2. 83
    It does a splendid job not only of introducing newcomers to a vital artist they might have missed, but of reminding rabid fans of Earle's stripe why they were infected to begin with.
  3. Rather than connecting all the chronological dots, Brown has fashioned Van Zandt's balm-to-the-brokenhearted legacy into potent cinematic poetry.
  4. Rejecting normality for nomadism, Van Zandt's life was difficult, but, man, what a legacy of music he left.
  5. it's Van Zandt's family that provides the film's most memorable moments.
  6. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    75
    an infomercial for death starring Townes Van Zandt.
  7. 75
    When the film ends, we're haunted. We've been driving with a ghost.
  8. Reviewed by: Joel Selvin
    75
    Tender but unsparing, heartfelt and unapologetic.
  9. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    70
    A dignified and wistful look at the unusual life, difficult career and lasting influence of singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt.
  10. 70
    Brown's respectful film offers the usual music-doc mix of archival footage, song clips, and talking heads, but with a figure as enigmatic and underreported as Van Zandt, the safe course works well.
  11. Here, as in so many other documentaries about troubled musicians, the word genius is casually tossed around. But does every unstable, self-destructive artist defiantly living on the edge qualify for that description? In Van Zandt's case, maybe yes.
  12. Reviewed by: Tim Grierson
    70
    The archetypal Townes Van Zandt song is a low-key ballad filled with sadness and failed humanity. Director Margaret Brown's documentary about the revered songwriter's songwriter (who died at the age of 52 on New Year's Day, 1997) keenly achieves the same tone.
  13. Brown's engrossing and poignant documentary on Van Zandt, is filled with appearances by celebrated performers who are simply fans of this legendarily troubled figure with the aching voice and haunted Lincoln-esque look.
  14. 70
    This may not be a solid biography, but it feels true.
  15. Reviewed by: Georgia Christgau
    50
    Loving but frank, Brown, by refusing to judge her film's subject, never falls into this trap. Too frequently, however, the side-of-the-road montages that are meant to mesmerize offer only blurry filler instead.
  16. Reviewed by: Louis R. Carlozo
    50
    Proves a less-than-satisfying examination of the country singer's art, career and demons.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 4 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. PatrickH.
    Feb 7, 2006
    9
    An excellent, well sequenced movie. Townes time in Europe not mentioned much - only complaint.
  2. JeradS.
    Dec 21, 2005
    7
    Really well done... definitely worth seeing.
  3. [Anonymous]
    Dec 12, 2005
    7
    Insightful and moving, but depressing as hell.