In the Realms of the Unreal


Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Reviewed by: John McMurtrie
    Absorbing and exquisite.
  2. 100
    Darger made art as if the lives of his subjects depended on it. That's how Yu has made her movie.
  3. A singular and haunting experience.
  4. Reviewed by: Melissa Levine
    Yu's approach to the material is brilliant.
  5. One need not necessarily appreciate Darger's art to enjoy Yu's sympathetic, intimate, and often breathtaking journey into the workings of his mind.
  6. 80
    Obscure by nature and unwieldy by design, Darger's work is difficult to confront and consume; Ms. Yu has brought it a little closer, and that is as fine a public service as an art documentary can provide.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The result is an astonishingly complex, striking original portrait of an artist whose deeply personal art, intended for no one but God and himself, demands to be treated on its own terms.
  8. A fascinating examination of a mysterious life and the truly bizarre art that it spawned.
  9. 80
    Yu has transferred to her superb film, the hushed awe she must have felt the day she walked into the room - and, in a sense, the mind - of this strange, singular individual.
  10. Filmmaker Jessica Yu, in In the Realms of the Unreal, outlines Darger's lonely life and interviews Lerner's elegant, sympathetic widow Kiyoko and other Darger neighbors -- highlighted by enchanting animation of some of Darger's exquisite scrolls.
  11. 75
    Yu presents a compelling, somewhat disturbing portrait of the artist, who in 2000 was the subject of a major exhibit that toured the world.
  12. The film, like its subject, is more adroit with pictures than with words.
  13. Has an odd magic about it - the magic of Darger's singularly peculiar dreamworld.
  14. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    Jessica Yu's elegant new doc In the Realms of the Unreal is a spry, creative response to his (Darger's) oceanic talent and claustrophobic life.
  15. The path taken by the film is somewhat labyrinthine and obscure, but it offers enough rewards to counterbalance its frustrations.

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