Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Tragically, the title of James Longley's beautifully shot 90-minute documentary refers to not only the state in which he found the Iraq during the two years he spent there shooting over 300 hours of footage, but the structure the violent factionalism that divides Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds imposes on his film.
  2. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    Offers the Iraqis a rare chance to share their anger and their lives with the outside world. The resulting production is a raw and powerful film that demands to be seen.
  3. The calm poetry of the cinematography offsets the mess of the politics to stunning effect.
  4. Oregon-born and Seattle-based director James Longley profiles three lives in his impressionistic portrait of Iraq's Sunni, Shia and Kurd communities.
  5. 100
    Langley's impeccably nonjudgmental camera knows exactly what details to record. Drawn from more than 300 hours of footage, the film's all too brief 94 minutes mesmerizes with its insight and, rarer still, its beauty.
  6. Much as Emile de Antonio's neglected "In the Year of the Pig" (1968) may be the only major documentary about Vietnam that actually considers the Vietnamese, this film allows the people of Iraq to speak, and what they say is fascinating throughout.
  7. Nominated for an Oscar for best documentary feature, it's deeply humane and even more deeply unsettling, in a way that most documentaries about Iraq, which tend toward the polemic, never manage.
  8. 91
    The first third of Iraq In Fragments is so intense--a masterpiece in miniature, really--that audiences may not have much emotion left for the rest.
  9. 90
    Seattle filmmaker James Longley's poetic essay on the plight of ordinary Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds trapped in a war simultaneously waged over their heads and in their faces stands head and shoulders above an overcrowded field of documentaries about the Iraq war.
  10. A documentary of stunning immediacy and marvelous images.
  11. One of the year's finest documentaries, a remarkable example of the conjunction of a burningly topical and newsworthy subject with a brilliant filmmaker.
  12. Iraq in Fragments already stands up as a classic war documentary, in its unusual poetic form and by its extraordinary access to the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
  13. 80
    Alone among the works I've seen and read about Iraq in the last three years, Iraq in Fragments captures the tremendous complexity and variability of the country, offering neither facile hope nor fashionable despair.
  14. 80
    From 300 hours of material, Mr. Longley has created a collage of images, sounds and characters, an intimate, partial portrait of an unraveling nation -- a portrait that gains power partly by virtue of its incompleteness.
  15. 80
    A vivid, poetic evocation of life in post-invasion Iraq that works both as impressionistic collage and candid portraiture.
  16. Every moment of Longley's film is interesting, and the more we watch, the more clearly we realize that the film cannot solve anything for us.
  17. Offers more questions than answers. Even the Kurds, who seem the closest thing to a success story, long for a unified Iraq.
  18. 75
    In addition to the interesting camera work, the documentary's undeniable appeal comes in how close Longley gets to the characters, who are all male.
  19. Visually arresting and deeply disheartening, James Longley's impressionistic documentary explores the pain of a shattered country by homing in on a few tiny shards.
  20. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    In this last passage Longley shows a poetic, almost elegiacal artistry. After two years, he might not understand the Iraqi people fully, but they have won his heart and mind.
  21. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Longley takes us through that country without a map; he's an artful, optimistic empiricist who believes what we see matters infinitely more than what we're told.
  22. In the end, the movie is more than the sum of its fragments. The montages are intense, the images ravishing. The movie is tactile. When you finally feel this place, you understand just how little you understand.
  23. Whether or not James Longley's boldly stylized reportage breaches public indifference, its enduring value is assured: When the war is long gone, this deft construction will persist in relevance, if not for what it says about the mess we once made, then as a model of canny cinematic construction.
  24. 63
    All three segments are heavy on blame-America speeches, which may be a fair snapshot of Iraqi opinion, but it's strange how fond Longley seems to be of Saddam Hussein.
  25. Reviewed by: Patrick Peters
    Shot over three years, this is one of the more considered and insightful Iraqi documentaries - although some may find its stylistic contrasts a little self-conscious and distracting.
  26. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    As beautiful as it is unrevealing, James Longley's Iraq in Fragments rests on a debatable but firm premise -- that the embattled country is irrevocably separated by its three dominant groups, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- but brings back nothing journalistically substantial from the war front .
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Rob
    Nov 18, 2006
    Insightful and beautiful in its way.
  2. [Anonymous]
    Nov 10, 2006
    A mezmerizing achievement.