Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Apr 30, 2014
    78
    There are no hard truths to be found in Finding Vivian Maier (really, how could there be?), but it’s an engrossing doc nevertheless – a portrait of an American artist hiding in plain sight, a mystery with too few clues, and a sincere inquiry into how best to divine the wishes of the dead.
  3. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Apr 17, 2014
    63
    The chief problem is the documentary’s misapprehension of the artistic personality.
  4. Reviewed by: Mary Houlihan
    Apr 4, 2014
    88
    It’s a big puzzle that the filmmakers piece together in an intriguing and engrossing way.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 3, 2014
    88
    Vivian Maier is a great Chicago story. And what she did for, and with, the faces, neighborhoods and character of mid-20th century Chicago deserves comparison to what Robert Frank accomplished, in a wider format, with "The Americans."
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Jul 14, 2014
    60
    An intriguing look at a lost voice.
  8. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Mar 26, 2014
    91
    More connect-the-dots detective thriller than traditional doc, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s revelatory riddle of a film unmasks a brilliant photographer who hid in plain sight for decades working as an eccentric French nanny.
  9. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Mar 27, 2014
    80
    What we find out about Maier, revealed in self-portraits as a striking woman with a singular sense of self, is fascinating.
  10. 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.
  11. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Mar 28, 2014
    75
    The resulting documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, might better have been titled Constructing Vivian Maier — not because the filmmakers came up empty-handed, but because what they found out sheds too neat and tidy a light on her unsparing, yet warmly sympathetic portraits of the denizens of Chicago's seamy underside.
  12. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 24, 2014
    83
    Hers is a sad story, but the fact that she never received recognition during her lifetime isn't part of its sadness.
  13. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Apr 4, 2014
    63
    She was a true talent. And yet Maloof and Siskel’s film presents an interesting moral quandary along with its profile of an amazing photographer. When does creative ability and the desire to share a true artist’s eye trump what has to be considered an invasion of privacy?
  14. 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.
  15. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Mar 26, 2014
    63
    This is less a portrait of an artist as a young woman than a psychological evaluation of a slippery subject.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 24, 2014
    88
    One part personal mystery and one part art-appreciation class.
  17. 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.
  18. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Mar 27, 2014
    75
    Some may find Finding Vivian Maier invasive, since Maloof and co-director Charlie Siskel delved into its namesake’s past after her death, but their curiosity is genuine rather than prurient; this is the rare example of a documentary about an enigmatic subject that doesn’t pretend to know all the answers.
  19. Reviewed by: Boyd van Hoeij
    Jan 21, 2014
    70
    [A] sleekly assembled and intriguing if clearly very commercial proposition.
  20. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Mar 27, 2014
    70
    The film, which [Mr. Maloof] directed with Charlie Siskel, is absorbing, touching and satisfyingly enjoyable because Maier was a fascinating, poignant and somewhat enigmatic woman.
  21. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Mar 27, 2014
    70
    Even as this fine documentary unveils the "mystery woman," as she once described herself, it remains intent on the molding of her myth. [31 March 2014, p.80]
  22. 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.
  23. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Jan 21, 2014
    80
    [An] initially playful, ultimately haunting documentary.
  24. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Mar 25, 2014
    80
    Because her tale is so fascinating, movie-making formula is all that's needed.
  25. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Apr 24, 2014
    75
    One of the great strengths of Finding Vivian Maier is the filmmakers’ willingness to gently thread ethical inquiry in and out of the film.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. 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. Full Review »
  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. Full Review »
  3. 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. Full Review »