Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. See it with an open heart and a tapping toe.
  2. One terrific concert film.
  3. Remarkable concert documentary.
  4. 89
    As concert films go, this is heady stuff.
  5. A movie which, like all the best blues, makes good times out of bad times, makes smiles out of hurt, makes tears taste like honey.
  6. 88
    It's hugely entertaining.
  7. 88
    Lightning in a Bottle has breadth, both in its multitude of perspectives and its spectrum of performances.
  8. Simply lets the sinfully gorgeous music and emotions sweep over an audience.
  9. 80
    It’s a rousing celebration.
  10. 80
    When Lightning In A Bottle steps back and simply lets the old-timers ply their trade, the result is consistently riveting.
  11. 80
    Like all good concert films, it's the next best thing to being there.
  12. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    Undeniably powerful on the bigscreen.
  13. 75
    If you haven't caught Lightning on PBS already, find a theater with a good sound system, sit back and be grateful the music endures.
  14. Fuqua's passion for the music comes through in the clear, unobtrusive style of the film, which mixes generous footage of the event's performances with interviews and archival footage, all adding up to a luscious historical snapshot of one America's original art forms.
  15. 75
    A joyous, toe-tapping celebration of a musical style born of sorrow.
  16. Reviewed by: Joel Selvin
    The end result is something like the best blues festival anyone could have thrown last year, although Lightning in a Bottle falls a fair piece short of its own lofty goal.
  17. Comes alive with the more relaxed performances from its senior set.
  18. Reviewed by: Bill White
    Despite some iffy moments, Lighting is the closest one to get to the music from which, as Hubert Sumlin notes, "there is no retiring. You stay with it until the end."
  19. 70
    Offers a bumper crop of tasty bits.
  20. Reviewed by: Sean Daly
    The movie manages to educate without losing steam.
  21. The music's sensational, but you keep waiting for the pledge number to flash up.
  22. 60
    You'd have to be a real curmudgeon not to enjoy a show with Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke...
  23. 50
    It's as hard not to ask what former New York Doll David Johansen is doing in their company, prancing his way through an irrelevant version of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor," as it is not to wonder why the audience is so overwhelmingly white.
  24. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    A documentary which wobbles and weaves as much as often as it soars.

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