Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Artfully, even elegantly constructed, Secret Lives skillfully probes issues of conflicting emotions and allegiances in a dark time, yet emerges as a loving affirmation of humanity's remarkable potential for goodness in the face of pervasive evil.
  2. Reviewed by: Curt Fields
    While the stories are heroic, the film doesn't omit less noble aspects. It acknowledges in passing that some rescuers did so merely for profit, and that others were abusive.
  3. 80
    Riveting, gracefully constructed film.
  4. 80
    Slesin's film is a profound meditation on the resilience of children -- their ability to take sustenance from whatever love is available -- and on the persistent presence of the child hidden within each grown-up.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Serves as a powerful tribute to a group of heroes who gave those they saved something nearly as valuable as life: proof that the best of the human spirit can endure even through the worst of times.
  6. It lets us glimpse once again the stubborn, if slender, persistence of the humane.
  7. 75
    The overriding sense one gets from this short but powerful film is awe.
  8. Although it isn't very original in style, this heartfelt account is always instructive and frequently very touching.
  9. Sometimes painful, often joyous, and altogether illuminating.
  10. 75
    These children are indeed the faces of war. It's just harder to recognize them because they're the ones someone cared enough to save.
  11. 75
    The stories touch our sensibilities, but the documentary never sugarcoats the childrens' experiences.
  12. 70
    Even the “good” Holocaust stories are chased by heartbreak, as we learn from this straight-ahead documentary.
  13. 70
    The consequent pain, anger, and confusion on all sides disrupts the standard martyrology of the genre and exposes the ordinary human wreckage that can follow even the most extraordinary acts of heroism.
  14. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Their interwoven stories, backgrounded by concise narration, well-chosen archival imagery and an evocative score by John Zorn, make for an absorbing and revealing examination of the ties that bind.
  15. 70
    Ms. Slesin sums up the complicated feelings of Secret Lives with one well-chosen phrase: what these people are suffering from, she says, is the "trauma of gratitude." Her film is as complex and moving as that formulation.
  16. 60
    The lack of a splashy style puts the tales of the rescued and their rescuers properly at the center, but whether viewers connect will depend in part on how saturated they are with Holocaust lore.
  17. 50
    It's a touching story that deserves to be told. Unfortunately, Slesin's presentation is conventional and uninspired (lots of boring talking heads). These heroes deserve better.

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