Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    One of the smarter, more unexpectedly touching documentaries of the year, and I recommend it to you whether you love Rivers or loathe the very thought of her.
  2. 88
    Fascinating and has a lot of laughs in it.
  3. She's a teller of hilarious gutbucket truths as surely as Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor ever were. Yet while they were consumed by their demons, Rivers is just the opposite.
  4. 88
    A documentary that exerts a car-wreck fascination as it follows the icon through her 75th year (she's now 77) while looking back over her tumult-filled life and career.
  5. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    85
    As the film demonstrates over the course of a full year with her, and not a great year by any stretch -- there is more to this particular hard-charging, egomaniacal, joke machine than gets revealed onstage.
  6. Reviewed by: Stan Hall
    83
    Rarely has a documentary subject projected such palpable fear and anxiety as Joan Rivers in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
  7. 88
    There's not a timid, sympathy-begging minute in it. Even better, you leave Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work with the exhilarating feeling that the lady is just hitting her stride.
  8. It's one of the best documentaries ever made about show business, about what it really consists of and what it demands.
  9. 91
    A Piece of Work is the antithesis of Jerry Seinfeld's engaging but superficial 2002 documentary "Comedian": where the innately private Seinfeld holds nearly everything back, Rivers loudly broadcasts the kind of fears, anxieties, and ambitions most people would do anything to hide.
  10. This convulsively funny movie takes an up-close and sometimes queasy-personal approach to its motormouth subject, who, when she's not making you howl with laughter (or freeze up in horror), brandishes her deeply held hurts, fears, prejudices, poor judgment and bad taste as if they were stigmata.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. j30
    Sep 22, 2011
    7
    A very entertaining movie about a very entertaining woman. It didn't particularly make me like Joan Rivers in any way, but she's funny and asA very entertaining movie about a very entertaining woman. It didn't particularly make me like Joan Rivers in any way, but she's funny and as the title suggests 'A Piece of Work.' Full Review »
  2. Sep 17, 2011
    8
    As a person who has never been a Joan Rivers fan, much less a Joan-and-Melissa Rivers fan, this documentary of a year in the life of the mostAs a person who has never been a Joan Rivers fan, much less a Joan-and-Melissa Rivers fan, this documentary of a year in the life of the most irritating comedienne on the planet is surprisingly, uhm, UN-irritating. Joan is the most human I've ever seen her and, like the movie Comedian by Jerry Seinfeld showed, the makeup of a comedian is rooted in insecurity and a sad, self-loathing existence that they feel trapped in. I'd never related why we saw George Burns, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, etc. continuing to publicly perform their comedy until near-death. We still see it in people like Don Rickles and, as is painfully displayed here, Joan Rivers. On one hand, the viewer has to admire her raw talent and endless drive, but on the other hand, one wants to just hug her and say, "uhm...go retire. Go do something you've always wanted to do." That's just it, though. She IS what she's created. And that IS what she wants to do, even as each year looks sadder and sadder. She owns her existence, though, and while even aware of its flaws, she continues to power through. If you've seen her honest dialogue with Louie this past season and was moved by the honesty of it, this documentary will blow you away. Full Review »
  3. Dec 16, 2010
    9
    I was surprised of the movie not being recognized by the Academy of Documentary. I guess they don't want anything to do with Joan Rivers, andI was surprised of the movie not being recognized by the Academy of Documentary. I guess they don't want anything to do with Joan Rivers, and that's the whole point of the documentary. The doc started out with Joan Rivers' lowpoint of her career (when she's already 70 years old), and it progresses with Rivers working her way up again. The film demonstrates how the once comedic icon and well known star turned into "a piece of work". With her comedic talents blending with her sad emotions, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is a snub that the Academy missed out on. OscarBuzz: NONE, that's the point! Full Review »