Herman's House Image
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 9 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in Herman’s House, a feature documentary that follows the unlikely friendship between Jackie Sumell, a New York artist, and Herman Wallace, one of America’s most famous inmates, as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project. [First Run Features] Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Apr 18, 2013
    88
    Bhalla’s advocacy gets its force above all from the oddly similar personalities of the two main subjects — Wallace and Sumell — zealous reformers possessed of astonishing optimism, even as Bhalla closes by noting that there are 80,000 prisoners in solitary in the US.
  2. Reviewed by: Zachary Wigon
    Apr 16, 2013
    80
    Herman's House coasts on the strength of its portrait of two systemic outsiders.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Apr 18, 2013
    80
    Although this documentary has a powerful political subtext, it is best described as a conceptual art piece about confinement, attached to a dual biography of the artist and the prisoner.
  4. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Apr 16, 2013
    70
    A portrait of an invisible man, Herman's House is a raised voice in the constitutional debate over solitary confinement.
  5. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Apr 18, 2013
    65
    Herman's House would benefit from more background material on Wallace, notably about the alleged weakness of the murder rap against him. In the end, though, neither Sumell nor the film is concerned with that. Their goal is to make palpable — and palpably horrific — the fact of living 23 hours a day in caged isolation.
  6. Reviewed by: Kalvin Henely
    Apr 16, 2013
    63
    An involving documentary that doesn't offer a convincing argument against solitary confinement for those who may not fully realize what's objectionable about it.
  7. Reviewed by: Jenna Scherer
    Apr 16, 2013
    60
    It’s an absorbing, prickly tale, which Bhalla doesn’t tell as coherently as he could have — oddly fitting, considering this is a story about frustrated ambitions and unfulfilled potential.

See all 9 Critic Reviews