User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 49
  2. Negative: 4 out of 49
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  1. LauraM
    Nov 7, 2008
    5
    I didn't enjoy the style of the movie. I did, however, think that the black eye given to the Canadian government on the handling of this case was well-deserved.
  2. BrandenR
    Dec 8, 2008
    6
    People were going crazy over this movie. If this movie was just about Zachary. It would have worked. It just a horrendous way of film making. The overly dramatic music, the overlapping voices, talking head after talking head, the manic editing. It was tragic subject inside an awful filmmaker.
  3. Sep 23, 2013
    6
    Obvious spoiler warning.

    The story that this documentary is based on deserves to be told and that Kuenne wanted to create a tribute to his friend is a touching idea. Unfortunately, he didn't do as good a job with it as he could have, simply because of his editing and the way he told the story. The source material is great and he has plenty of it, but instead of letting all the people he
    Obvious spoiler warning.

    The story that this documentary is based on deserves to be told and that Kuenne wanted to create a tribute to his friend is a touching idea. Unfortunately, he didn't do as good a job with it as he could have, simply because of his editing and the way he told the story. The source material is great and he has plenty of it, but instead of letting all the people he interviewed and all the documents tell this sad and infuriating story, Kuenne apparently felt the need to "enhance" his documentary with an annoying amount of effects and often frantic editing. Gut punches like the cut from the news about Zachary's disappearance to the report about his death (easily the most shocking moment of the documentary) are completely ruined by this decision. The worst part were the childish Monty-Pythonesque scenes that showed an image of whoever was quoted with a comical CGI mouth and the endless repetitions near the end, just in case the viewer didn't get the point during the first dozen times.

    This should have been the masterpiece it deserved to be, but I guess that Kuenne couldn't control his emotions while putting the documentary together.
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Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    50
    The way Kuenne presents the material, with an aggressive style that lingers less than a second on most shots, it's impossible not to feel emotionally exhausted.
  2. Reviewed by: Martin Tsai
    80
    Kuenne lovingly assembles home-movie footage and new interviews, while deftly borrowing a narrative trick from fiction--the plot twist--to create a true-crime story so gripping, devastating, and ultimately unforgettable that it easily trumps any thriller Hollywood has to offer this year.
  3. The facts are so awful that Dear Zacharycan be forgiven much of its antsiness--as a memorial, as a condolence to Bagby’s parents (who became activists for judicial reform in their late son's honor), and as a howl of grief.