Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 3, 2012
    100
    In short, This Is Not a Film is the world within an apartment, and it is quietly devastating.
  2. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Apr 5, 2012
    100
    This Is Not a Film isn't just a film, it's a strong one. It's also an act of political defiance, a moving personal document and a meditation on what film is and can be.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 29, 2012
    100
    This Is Not a Film is a compelling personal document, a quietly passionate statement of artistic intent, and an uncompromising testament to his belief in cinema.
  4. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Mar 1, 2012
    100
    How did Mr. Panahi do this? I'm at a bit of a loss to explain, to tell you the truth, since my job is to review movies, and this, obviously, is something different: a masterpiece in a form that does not yet exist.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Mar 1, 2012
    100
    Against all odds, an unquenchable artist has made yet another piece of powerful art.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Mar 1, 2012
    100
    Any way you slice it, it's a brave and brilliant act of defiance.
  7. Reviewed by: Phil Contrino
    Feb 29, 2012
    100
    This Is Not A Film and "A Separation" masterfully show Iranians that are full of the same passions, concerns and desires as the rest of the world-an incredibly important accomplishment now that the drumbeat to war grows louder each day.
  8. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Feb 28, 2012
    100
    It's a political statement, an act of defiance, a master class in one auteur's body of work and process, and a document of a life unseen. But above all, it's a gripping entertainment.
  9. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Feb 28, 2012
    100
    Sure it is - and a great one at that.
  10. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Feb 27, 2012
    100
    This is a great film, and a triumph of creativity and courage over repression.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Feb 27, 2012
    100
    In Panahi's case, he is insuperably handicapped by his current constraints. And yet, despite everything, here is This Is Not a Film, which is emphatically a film – and an extraordinary one.
  12. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Mar 2, 2012
    95
    If you pay close attention, there's also an exhilarating evocation of how art is stubbornly made, and arbitrary authority put in its place, under the most confining conditions. Rene Magritte, whose famous pipe painting is slyly honored in the movie's title, would be jazzed.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 14, 2012
    90
    As its title suggests, This Is Not a Film may not be what we're used to in a movie, but in many ways it's much, much more.
  14. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Feb 27, 2012
    90
    Standing at his balcony, filming the revelry with his iPhone, he seems to be saying that directing is more defiant an act than lighting a firecracker or two. Truth be told, Panahi's poignant "Film" is infinitely more explosive.
  15. 90
    In totalitarian societies, artists have found all sorts of ways - some brilliantly imaginative - to disguise their political protest, but Panahi has no subterfuges left. This Is Not a Film ends with a whimper that is a bang. He must be freed.
  16. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 11, 2012
    88
    Little by little, detail by detail, This Is Not a Film leads to a final scene of overwhelming power. I don't think it was even planned - no more than Panahi expected the little actress to take the cast off her arm. It simply happens, and then the film is over, having nothing more to say. Because, after all, it is not a film.
  17. Reviewed by: Phil Coldiron
    Feb 27, 2012
    88
    In its way, this effort is both a forceful assertion of the most stifling brand of auteurism and a radical reconfiguration of its political potential.
  18. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Feb 29, 2012
    85
    A small but extremely significant message in a bottle. That metaphor is almost literal: The picture made its way to Cannes via a USB drive -- which was smuggled in a cake.
  19. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 23, 2012
    80
    Merely from a film-study standpoint, it's an interesting exercise.
  20. Reviewed by: Tom Dawson
    Mar 19, 2012
    80
    Drawing on revealing clips from Panahi's previous films, TINAF reveals not only the realities of artistic censorship, but its firework-laden finale shows how cinema thrives on spontaneity.
  21. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Mar 2, 2012
    80
    It's particularly exciting to get to see an inventive underground work like This Is Not a Film in the wake of Iran's first-ever Oscar win for Asghar Farhadi's great film "A Separation." It's becoming clear that the blossoming of Iranian cinema, which has been going on now for at least 20 years, is too strong a force for the government censors to contain.
  22. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Mar 1, 2012
    80
    Fascinating for what it signifies as much as what it shows, This Is Not a Film illustrates how Panahi is struggling to stay alive creatively and, paradoxically, can't help but demonstrate how much of a natural filmmaker he is.
  23. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Mar 1, 2012
    80
    It's irrefutably art, and undeniably vital.
  24. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Feb 27, 2012
    80
    The movie is also about a man without fear. It is often funny and stirring, but as you are watching you know what the game will lead to; dictatorships are not known for their sense of humor. [5 March 2012, p. 86]
  25. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Feb 27, 2012
    75
    Deft and ironic, mixing banal reality with poignant metaphor in a typically Iranian style.
  26. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Feb 27, 2012
    75
    Pleasing mainly just as a message-in-a-bottle from a restless, persecuted artist-that is, until the amazing closing shot, which brings the volatility of post-Green Revolution Iran home with unforgettable force.
  27. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Mar 2, 2012
    50
    So there is courage and cheekiness here. What there is not is a story, or much insight or even anger; anyone expecting an indictment of Iran will be sorely disappointed.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Mar 4, 2012
    9
    This defiant piece of work by Pahahi is definitely not a film, it is something unlike any other movie/documentary I've ever seen. It is quiteThis defiant piece of work by Pahahi is definitely not a film, it is something unlike any other movie/documentary I've ever seen. It is quite a revolutionary piece of work, being filmed partly on an iPhone, and having no distinct plot of his government could find fault with. While Pahahi does wish he could document his last screenplay before he was banned, that is not the main focus of the work. Simply put, the work shows a day in the life of a brilliant filmmaker who is vastly under-appreciated by his own government. Panahi invites you into his home, and more importantly, into the world of his feelings. You can feel his sense of longing, his sense of frustration, his sense of defiance. The work is not all sad either. There are many seemingly normal things that go on as he and his friend document his life that offer some comic relief. This work is testament to how brave the Iranian people are. Panahi and his friend know that if this "not a film" is discovered, then they will be in even bigger trouble, but that does not deter them. The fact that the "not a film" was smuggled out of Iran through a cake speaks volumes to their dedication of secretly rebelling against an unfriendly government. One can only hope that Panahi is freed. Full Review »
  2. Mar 11, 2013
    8
    A late addition to the Cannes 2011 programme after being smuggled into France inside a cake, Iranian director Jafar Panahi's "This is Not aA late addition to the Cannes 2011 programme after being smuggled into France inside a cake, Iranian director Jafar Panahi's "This is Not a Film" (2011) is by no means your average political documentary. The 75-minute piece, shot partially on an iPhone, captures the day-to-day life of Panahi during a state-imposed house arrest in his Tehran apartment as he appeals a six year prison sentence and 20 year filmmaking ban for his opposition to the 2011 Iranian elections.

    Here in the Western world, our access to information, democratic governments, and human rights are taken for granted. Panahi and Mirtahmasb are putting their lives on the line to tell the stories they feel they must tell, in the hope that, one day, their nation will be able to have the same sort of pro-democratic freedom as the rest of us. Gripping entertainment. Little by little "This Is Not a Film" leads to a final scene of overwhelming power. Anyone interested in cinema and/or Iran owes it to themselves to become familiar with this "not" film.
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 26, 2012
    9
    I liked this movie because it sets the bar high as far as what it's trying to say. The metaphors here are terrific. The movie is very good,I liked this movie because it sets the bar high as far as what it's trying to say. The metaphors here are terrific. The movie is very good, but has a few flaws in my eyes. I'm not a fanatic against foul language, but this movie contains about 50 more F bombs than needed. I think it would have had a better impact if the main character of Pete was a little more "normal" in his cynical nature. I'm not talking about 'It's A Wonderful Life' normal, but something short of the vile person he is. However, the flick is great in it's depiction of man's frustration with today's society. It asks," what is it all leading up to?" I love how God is depicted. Great acting by Peter Coyote. Very clever. It makes you think about the future of mankind! Full Review »