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  • Summary: Bill W. tells the story of William G. Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, a man included in TIME Magazine's "100 Persons of the 20th Century." Interviews, recreations, and rare archival material reveal how Bill Wilson, a hopeless drunk near death from his alcoholism, found a way out of his own addiction and then forged a path for countless others to follow. With Bill as its driving force, A.A. grew from a handful of men to a worldwide fellowship of over 2 million men and women – a success that made him an icon within A.A., but also an alcoholic unable to be a member of the very society he had created. A reluctant hero, Bill Wilson lived a life of sacrifice and service, and left a legacy that continues every day, all around the world. (Page 124 Productions) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Jun 7, 2012
    80
    As the filmmakers trace the troubles of his later life -- psychological, financial, marital -- they flesh out a portrait of a reluctant guru whose human imperfections make him all the more inspiring.
  2. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    May 16, 2012
    80
    Showing deep appreciation for Wilson's influence, as well as for the obscurity in which he spent his career in the spiritual-rescue business, the helmers employ a motherlode of photographs, diary entries, correspondence and recorded speeches to tell a sensational story that many will think they know, but don't.
  3. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    May 17, 2012
    80
    Laudatory but never simplistic, Bill W. is a thoroughly engrossing portrait of Wilson, his times and the visionary fellowship that is his legacy.
  4. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    May 18, 2012
    75
    Alcoholics Anonymous founder William G. Wilson, known mostly as Bill W. before his death in 1971, was played by James Woods in a fine 1989 made-for-TV biopic. But the drama didn't have room for some of the darker corners of Wilson's life, fascinatingly explored in Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino's documentary.
  5. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    Aug 2, 2012
    75
    Bill W., an admirable, illuminating film about the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, is pretty much like the man himself: solid, sometimes flawed and seriously unflashy.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 1, 2012
    75
    A key part of AA was anonymity: "Who you see here, what you say here, let it stay here." Bill Wilson himself was not anonymous - that horse was already out of the barn - and his fame was such that Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential men of the century. Told he should be on a postage stamp, he said: "They'd have to show the back of my head."
  7. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jul 25, 2012
    30
    Despite the filmmakers' efforts to humanize Wilson, however, Bill W. still dabbles in hagiography, valorizing the man while also painting him as a reluctant hero.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Aug 16, 2012
    9
    Viewers will find the film both provocative and inspiring presenting Wilson as a flawed human and a visionary. It includes a great deal of Wilson\'s letters, film clips and audio recordings which allow the viewer to make their own interpretation of the man and his achievements. When the subject of a documentary is a man who has made such personal sacrifices and noble contributions, it is difficult to ignore his iconic image, but the film shows a man who admittedly never escaped all his demons and was haunted by doubts and depression all his life.To some this will diminish his status, to others it will enhance his legacy. Expand
  2. May 21, 2012
    9
    What could have been a dull biography of Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous is brought to life through rare photos, archival footage, dramatic recreations and thoughtful interviews. The documentary is particularly clever in its use of interviews with recovering alcoholics. The interviews help you get a better understanding of not only Wilson, but the struggles of alcoholics in general. The film also does a good job in addressing the issues faced by any growing organization. Documentary buffs and fans of character driven stories should seriously consider giving this film a look. Expand

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