Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics What's this?

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8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 9 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Who is Vivian Maier? Now considered one of the 20th century's greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime. Since buying her work by chance at auction, amateur historian John Maloof has crusaded to put this prolific photographer in the history books. Maier's strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her. [IFC Films] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Mar 28, 2014
    100
    Maier is a great artist who discounted adulation entirely. Her life was a masquerade; her genius, quite literally, was unexposed.
  2. Reviewed by: Mary Houlihan
    Apr 4, 2014
    88
    It’s a big puzzle that the filmmakers piece together in an intriguing and engrossing way.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 17, 2014
    80
    Through dogged research and interviews with the (now-grown) children Maier cared for, along with their parents (including Phil Donahue), a profile emerges, and it's fascinating.
  4. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Mar 26, 2014
    75
    John Maloof’s documentary has an opening both apt and witty: Talking heads, one after the other, struck dumb by the mystery at hand.
  5. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Apr 10, 2014
    75
    An engaging documentary attempt to probe her mystery, and it offers some answers - she was secretive and stubborn, a hoarder of epic proportions who seems to have had fits of instability. She also wasn't always nice to her young charges.
  6. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Mar 26, 2014
    70
    The question of whether Maier, a recluse, would have ever wanted someone like Maloof to bring her into the light is troubling, and perhaps impossible to resolve, but Maloof’s passion for her work and his boundless curiosity about her history certainly make for a riveting documentary.
  7. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Mar 26, 2014
    60
    Maier’s images are truly stunning—vivid documents of the working class that are off-the-cuff yet rigorously composed, always capturing that enigmatic bit of her subject’s soul that leaves you in spine-tingled awe.

See all 25 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Apr 16, 2014
    10
    This is a fascinating documentary about the life and work of this recluse artist. Ms. Maier indeed suffered from mental health issues which became apparent as her life is revealed, both by her work and by the people who thought they knew her although no one really did. She was probably abused as a child but there was no proof despite the extensive investigation into her past, what little could be found. It's follows like a well scripted mystery how this unattached spinster came to make the briefest contact with ordinary people she photographed so profusely. She also had a cruel side which was revealed by several of the now adult children she worked with as a nanny. The interviews are candid and honest as the story unfolds. This film, which includes many of her insightful and sensitive photos which were her life work, is truly worth seeing. Expand
  2. May 14, 2014
    9
    Very enjoyable as I am a photographer myself, but honestly the story is intriguing enough and well shot that you need not be a photobug to actually enjoy it. I kinda wish it had been longer and even more in depth. It definitely left you wanting to know more...asking more questions about why this woman kept her work a secret, what problems she may have had etc. I went into this with tempered expectations and enjoyed it more than anticipated. Her photos speak for themselves. Expand
  3. May 23, 2014
    9
    An engaging documentary about an enigmatic recluse -- and an incredible talent -- whose works weren't discovered until after her passing. The film features a montage of beautiful images and a mystery story that's as compelling as any fictional film. Expand

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