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

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • 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
    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
    It’s a big puzzle that the filmmakers piece together in an intriguing and engrossing way.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 17, 2014
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Apr 16, 2014
    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
    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. Collapse
  3. May 23, 2014
    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
  4. Aug 30, 2014
    vivian maier's photography is stunning. for that alone, watch the film. the stories told about her as a nanny are intriguing. her employers (there were lots-how she went from family to family, making deep impressions on each, is remarkable. as a nanny myself, i can't imagine working with so many) all remember her very vividly. the film would've been far stronger if maloof had kept himself out of it and simply narrated. he's a serious artist and collector, but his presence makes the film seem sometimes goofy and light. neither quality describes maier's work. Expand
  5. Nov 2, 2014
    An esoteric and informative doc, plays out like an unfolding mystery. The filmmaker's ambivalence in regards to showing Maier's very personal and purposefully shielded work makes for interesting discussion, though this topic isn't delved into as deeply or passionately as we'd like. The focus of the film is more on the life and work of Vivian Maier, who proves to be an interesting enough subject to keep our attention for an agreeably brief running time. Worth a watch, maybe once. Expand