Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Sep 16, 2011
    100
    Extraordinarily engaging but surprisingly sobering.
  2. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 8, 2011
    100
    Deep, disturbing and funny.
  3. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jul 21, 2011
    91
    It's one of those works that presents the deeds of both humans and animals and leaves you wondering which is the more civilized.
  4. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jul 7, 2011
    91
    To an equal extent, Project Nim shows the human capacity for cruelty and narcissism as well as compassion and selflessness.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 14, 2011
    90
    At times hilarious but ultimately heartbreaking, Project Nim is a great chronicle of the 1970s and all the nutty ideas that implies; academia in particular comes in for a hard reckoning.
  6. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jul 9, 2011
    90
    I'll be forever grateful to this movie for introducing me to Nim's story, a tale so powerful and suggestive that it functions as a myth about the ever-mysterious relationship between human beings and animals.
  7. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jul 7, 2011
    90
    There is no doubt that Nim was exploited, and also no doubt that he was loved. Mr. Marsh, by allowing those closest to Nim plenty of room to explain themselves, examines the moral complexity of this story without didacticism. He allows the viewer, alternately appalled, touched and fascinated, to be snagged on some of its ethical thorns.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Aug 12, 2011
    88
    There's so much higher intelligence in Project Nim that simply digesting it feels like evolutionary progress.
  9. 88
    In art there are no rules, just stuff that works. And for the second film in a row, Marsh has created a movie we can't keep our eyes off.
  10. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jul 21, 2011
    88
    Nim is as unforgettable as the treatment of him is unspeakable.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 14, 2011
    88
    An engrossing and enraging drama of one chimpanzee and his life's journey across a landscape of human folly.
  12. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jul 7, 2011
    88
    The movie suggests that humans benefitted little from Project Nim, and Nim himself not at all.
  13. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 7, 2011
    88
    Project Nim is practically irresistible. The story keeps getting odder and richer and more complicated.
  14. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jul 2, 2011
    88
    Here's a documentary so slick, novel, touching and outrageous that your first thought might be "This has to be fake."
  15. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jul 8, 2011
    85
    Nim's suffering is heartbreaking, but Marsh's melodramatic style, with its re-enactments and intense score, sometimes feels bombastic and overblown for a group of people who, aside from the frighteningly detached and morally careless Terrace, seem to be garden-variety neurotics and narcissists, more clueless than willfully cruel.
  16. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jul 7, 2011
    85
    "A chimp could not have a better mother," Terrace declares of his decision. The people in this film say stuff like that a lot.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jul 8, 2011
    83
    The big news here is not simply that Nim was traumatized, it's that Nim was signing that he was traumatized.
  18. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 6, 2011
    83
    The movie works best when probing the nature of human interactions with Nim: He appears to form a close friendship with the stoner psych major Bob Ingersoll, not only foraging for food with him but also sharing joints.
  19. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 2, 2011
    83
    A fascinating and in many ways tragic documentary, takes us back to one of the high-water marks of the apes-are-people-too era.
  20. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Aug 8, 2011
    80
    Gripping, heart-wrenching, powerful and a sad indictment of scientific practice, which shows that 'human' and 'humane' are all-too-often mutually exclusive.
  21. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jul 14, 2011
    80
    What makes this film especially engrossing is that what happened between that chimp and the humans with whom he spent his life in intimate contact turns out to be only half the story that Marsh, who directed the electrifying "Man on Wire," has to tell.
  22. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 8, 2011
    80
    If only this were a media-fueled tall tale and not one poor creature's lifelong nightmare.
  23. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    Jul 7, 2011
    80
    Sexual politics, family dynamics, the debate over heredity versus environment, and the dubious ethics of scientific research on animals are rigorously explored in this ambitious, bittersweet work.
  24. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Jul 5, 2011
    80
    Marsh's film remains a deeply haunting portrait of the unbridgeable gap between kindred species.
  25. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Jul 2, 2011
    80
    While this is fascinating material, it's the flawed human behavior it exposes that makes the story so compelling. And yet what elevates Marsh's film is the even-handedness of his perspective.
  26. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jul 2, 2011
    80
    A provocative and surprisingly emotional saga that ranges from wrenching to downright hilarious as it spans more than a quarter-century of unpredictable twists, "Nim" reaches far beyond mere scientific curiosity to become compelling human drama.
  27. Reviewed by: Steve Ramos
    Jul 2, 2011
    80
    British filmmaker James Marsh recreates this tale of an ambitious primate language study through traditional face-the-camera interviews, clever graphics and dramatic recreations.
  28. 80
    You get a bad feeling early in Project Nim, the brilliant, traumatizing documentary by James Marsh (Man on Wire).
  29. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jul 28, 2011
    75
    An absorbing, agonizing documentary about ambition, lust and anthropomorphism at their most heedless, records suffering and manipulation so extreme that description can barely do them justice.
  30. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Jul 14, 2011
    75
    After watching Project Nim, a distressing portrait of a misguided 1970s language experiment, you'll be glad you're not a chimp in a cage. But you might want to revoke your membership in the human race, which comes across as a narcissistic, hedonistic, self-absorbed, neglectful, anthropomorphizing and arrogant bunch of hippie-dippy know-it-alls.
  31. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 7, 2011
    70
    For the most part, though, the real people - the movers and shakers of Nim's world - are there to speak for themselves in the present as well as the past, and the main ones are, with a conspicuous exception, a sorry, self-serving lot.
  32. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jul 5, 2011
    60
    The good news is that the film's stylistic excesses don't negate the many fascinating aspects of Nim's story.
  33. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jul 3, 2011
    50
    To drive home the pathos of Nim's mistreatment, James Marsh frequently makes questionable use of the creature's apparent similarity to human beings, trading complex analysis for easy sentiment.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 3 out of 6
  1. Jun 18, 2012
    9
    The documentary which portrays the loveliness and unconditional state of an animal which is also capable of transformed into something unimaginable. At the same time reflects the selfishness, horribleness of how people took advantage of this helpless chimp and reflects an aspect of the Full Review »
  2. Mar 11, 2012
    10
    Sorry, Italian / English mechanic.
    1973 November : A small chimpanzee born in captivity in Norman Oklahoma / suiprimati in a research
    center. A few days later, the puppy is removed from the mother, already accustomed to this oozing, after having abbattutacon a dart containing tranquilizer. The little chimp is then inserted in a "family man". To take care of him is a former student, wealthy, with a degree in psychology Stephanie LaFarge / and with a lot 'of their children by adding those of her new husband.
    Nim was the beginning of the project, perhaps the most radical experiment of its kind, which aims to demonstrate the possibility that a chimp has to communicate through sign language, if raised, nurtured and raised as a human child. The direction of the experiment is carried out by a psychology professor at Columbia University Herbert S. Terrace /. Once acquired sign language, or rather the greatest number of words and a bit 'rough grammar, one hopes to steal his thoughts, his moods. If successful, the consequences are nothing short of staggering, lack of communication between man and his nearest relative was struck and forever new frontiers of communication open and so forth. The question - What does it mean to be human? - Remains to be redefined.
    The new tenant has an immediate and positive approach affectively with her adoptive family, and certainly does not mind the residence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where spaces wide and especially lots and lots of people to allow them to express themselves better. Learn quickly and in a short space of a few months began to communicate his needs. She loves playing with human brothers acquired, and often the furnishings of the house suffered significant material deformation. Clever, skillful, becomes more and more clever, even his body begins to harden. Nim is now too big for this family, sooobbh! / Is then transferred into a large house owned by Columbia University. But why is relieved of Jennie LaFarge? According to the prof. Terrace LaFarge has the whole family against Nim a more libertine "educational". Responsible for this are a number of students, the first of these Laura-Ann Petitto /, which according to the LaFarge seems to have been chosen especially for his physique. For each of them, Nim leaves indelible marks on the skin of his canines, especially when it senses a dangerous situation for him.
    At the age of five years, has gained "only" a vocabulary of more than 130 words and no grammar, too little to continue the experiment. 130 words are hardly enough to have your say in the various fields of knowledge - Sigh! The experiment is over. The new residence of Nim is in a primate research center in Oklahoma. In this place will have to learn to live with his fellows who had never seen before. Bum! Bum! Benedict homo sapiens sapiens. / A decision is a disaster!
    Having gained some 'of human culture allows Nim, in the reception center, to institute positive relationships with the security personnel, maintenance and so forth. With them, from time to time, drinking beer and does not mind the smoke. This structure has to deal with its budget, which red for some time, hopefully in a shower of green dollars. The rain did not arrive. Nim is so sold to a laboratory that is interested in scientific research applied to drugs located in upstate New York. Yuck!
    Nim does not know the drumbeat of human metaphor. The news of his current state is highlighted by the press and is a lawyer out of the norm as they do to give him the freedom he deserves. Nim is purchased from an animal rights activist and taken to a shelter in Texas. There he remained until his death from cardiac arrest in 2000.
    Nim has surely forgiven, but many humans who have had contact with him scientific cooperation, more or less long, probably still suffer from insomnia so obsessed by his face.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 19, 2012
    3
    Nah. I only feel compelled to write a review just to balance out the score. I didnt learn anything. There is a story but its certainly not gripping. Its a back page column stretched to a movie and it shows. Full Review »