My Architect


Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29

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Critic Reviews

  1. Obviously a profoundly personal film, but it's also a smartly conducted tour through the world of building and design that Kahn towered over during the most successful phases of his career.
  2. Not only is it the best documentary in a vintage season for nonfiction films (see "American Splendor," "Capturing the Friedmans," and "Spellbound"), it's also one of the best films of the year. It's as lyrical about the particulars of Kahn as it is about the universals of fathers and sons.
  3. 100
    A first-person documentary with the subterranean pull of a superb confessional novel.
  4. Movies today rarely touch chords that are spiritual or deeply emotional, but Nathaniel Kahn's remarkable documentary My Architect: A Son's Journey does both.
  5. The journey comes together to be one of the very best of the "in search of" documentaries: open-minded, informative, immaculately crafted, full of moving and highly privileged moments of discovery.
  6. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    This fascinating portrait of an eccentric visionary and his chaotic triple family life is an accomplished, enormously satisfying non-fiction work.
  7. 90
    An inspired homage to his father's work, and a bracing, bittersweet testament of filial love mixed with pain and compassion.
  8. This is a bittersweet story, no question. But to the son's great credit, what emerges from his patient investigation is a remarkably rich, even sympathetic, portrait of the father.
  9. 90
    Absorbing, beautiful documentary.
  10. 88
    The result is an immensely enjoyable portrait of a strange-looking, non-comforming genius who loved women as much as designing masterpieces but was never able to commit to them. In other words: great architect, lousy family man.
  11. 88
    Nathaniel fares well with his father's fellow masters, although Frank Gehry seems evasive.
  12. 88
    What a sad film this, and how filled with the mystery of human life.
  13. The son is obsessive and petulant, punishing and self-pitying, and by the time he gets to a talk with his hurt old mother, we understand why.
  14. 83
    The most telling moment comes when his mother reveals that, despite all the subterfuge and false promises, she wouldn't have had it any other way.
  15. Tinged with sorrow, compassion, forgiveness and, ultimately, love. More than 25 years after his father's death, Nathaniel visits his father's architectural works and speaks to the people who knew him.
  16. The son's search is one of three strands of a story that the movie weaves into a meticulously structured portrait of a complicated man who remains elusive even after key elements of the puzzle have been pieced together.
  17. 80
    Touring his father's magnificent structures, Nathaniel shows signs of coming around to his mother's point of view, and of realizing that Kahn's towering contributions to art and humanity perhaps exceed (if not altogether excuse) his shortcomings as a father, a husband, and a lover.
  18. 80
    What makes it enthralling is the younger Kahn's openness to a range of emotional responses (his own and others') to his father's life above and below board, and his readiness to turn his own predicament into both entertainment and a provisional kind of puckish wisdom.
  19. 78
    Fathers and families and the impossibility of ever fully understanding either are at the heart of My Architect, and like Nathaniel Kahn, we come away from the film with a renewed appreciation of both.
  20. Apparently Louis Kahn was not much of a father, raconteur or businessman. But he was a genius, and he left his mark on all the people whose lives he touched.
  21. A twofold story of heroic achievements and personal failings.
  22. 75
    It is a stunning work that captures with elegance -- and touches of lyricism -- the challenge of finding the man through the artist.
  23. 70
    This touching documentary is many things at once: a fascinating biography, a gorgeously shot travelogue, a provocative disquisition on the relevance of architecture and, above all, the record of a son's poignant search for a father.
  24. The son has served the father well, though he faced an odd difficulty: the architect's life was so unusual that his son's understandable absorption with it steals a bit of time from his treatment of the work.
  25. Nathaniel Kahn is very much a presence in this film, at times too much so. The title is properly read with the emphasis on the "my," and the work itself is a plea, understandable but disconcerting at times in its nakedness, to be linked irrevocably to his father.
  26. Nathaniel will sometimes take it too far. It's particularly distracting, and even a little distancing, when he waits till the end of a lengthy interview to tell one of his father's former collaborators and friends that he is Louis' son.
  27. 70
    Fascinating and heartbreaking film.
  28. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    You'll be left as much in the dark as the director about the personality traits that inspired the loyalty of three strong, intelligent women towards this self-centred, physically-resistible enigma.
  29. A fascinating look at a bizarre man and a brilliant talent. But a good deal of the movie is described by its subtitle -- "A Son's Journey'' -- and to the extent it is, the movie sags.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. JayH.
    Feb 4, 2008
    I am not quite sure why the fuss over a relatively unknown architect, who apparently wasn't even that great. He is a fascinating I am not quite sure why the fuss over a relatively unknown architect, who apparently wasn't even that great. He is a fascinating character however, but hardly admirable. He was a selfish man as well as a semi-genius - in some ways. It is a well done documentary, it is certainly well researched. I am less than enthralled over the man or his work. Full Review »
  2. KenL
    Aug 29, 2005
    An extremely interesting documentary by Louis Kahn's son. I really liked it. A story about a son trying to understand his father, with An extremely interesting documentary by Louis Kahn's son. I really liked it. A story about a son trying to understand his father, with the backdrop of visiting most of his famous buildings. So, there are various themes -- the son's journey, the unusual life of Louis Kahn (and his three "families"), and the products of his work. A nice balance between interviews, vintage film of Kahn, Nathaniel's journey and Kahn's buildings. Also, a good Q&A session with the director on the DVD. Full Review »