Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. 50
    It is a touching story, and the musicians (some over 90 years old) still have fire and grace onstage, but, man, does the style of this documentary get in the way.
  2. What the film leaves unexplained is how this joyous musical outpouring, which predated the revolution, could fare under a system with a pathological distrust of beauty.
  3. I've never seen another movie that so clearly expresses the sensual sustenance that great folk culture provides its practitioners.
  4. The concert scenes find the stage awash in such intense joy, camaraderie and nationalist pride that you become convinced that making music is a key to longevity and spiritual well-being.
  5. Being able to hear this kind of playing is a special moment in time, one we don't want to end and one that we're privileged to experience.
  6. The players and their stories are as wonderful as the music, and the filmmaking is uncommonly sensitive and alert.
  7. 90
    The movie comes closer to pure happiness than anything else in the theatres at the moment, and it has an intriguing and moving subtext: the Cubans' buried but irrepressible love of things American.
  8. A poetry of love, longing and affirmation bleeds through the music of Cuba, and some of the best sounds the island ever created are captured with embracing humanity.
  9. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    80
    Wenders lets the music and the sprightly people who make it speak for themselves, although the director's ongoing fascination with the urban environment is in top form as the camera serenely cruises the streets of Havana, often at a velvety dusk.
  10. Buena Vista Social Club is obviously intended less as a concert film than as a set of cinematic liner notes about the vanishing musical culture.
  11. 80
    This soothing, elegantly-crafted film is such a marvelous piece of work.
  12. Reviewed by: Philip Elwood
    88
    A 140-minute film masterpiece.
  13. Reviewed by: Alejandro Riera
    75
    At the end, we're left with a desire to hear even more of this music and hang out a little longer with these musicians.
  14. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    70
    Cleverly mixes footage from various recording sessions and interviews with live performances in Amsterdam and New York City's Carnegie Hall.
  15. Reviewed by: Hal Hinson
    100
    Infectious, intoxicating joy is the emotion conveyed in every frame of this ravishing, exuberant documentary.
  16. Reviewed by: John Payne
    80
    Buena Vista avoids literal politics, as if all that is beside this film's point.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Gehr
    80
    Feels like a timeless blast from the past.
  18. Reviewed by: Thomas Hayden
    80
    The film is short on biographical details and the history of the music, and long on impressions of the musicians' character and motivations.
  19. Reviewed by: Norman Green
    50
    Lacks dramatic tension and fails to bring this great music alive. It does not sing.

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