• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 24, 2013
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
60

Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 30
  2. Negative: 3 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Mar 22, 2013
    40
    Phil Spector is watchable, but given the lofty expectations raised by HBO movies, it’s also the cinematic equivalent of a bad hair day.
  2. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Mar 22, 2013
    80
    In the end, the movie transcends the legal chess match, defining itself instead by the sheer wattage of Spector’s personality and his high-level sparring with a woman whose brains match his own, minus the madness.
  3. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Mar 22, 2013
    80
    Fans of legal dramas should be intrigued by Phil Spector, a well-paced 90-minute character-driven film.
  4. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Mar 22, 2013
    40
    Claustrophobic, stagey and muddled, the movie offers two memorable set pieces.
  5. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Mar 21, 2013
    40
    Everything aside from Pacino in this movie is surprisingly ordinary and lacking.
  6. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Mar 22, 2013
    63
    If you are willing and able to take it on its own fictional terms, it does work as a well-acted legal drama, though even on that level, you're better off watching The Good Wife.
  7. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Mar 15, 2013
    80
    Even though the movie is loaded with enough to satisfy those who believe Spector did it, as Mirren’s role is written and Pacino’s performance hints at, the film seems eager to suggest Spector was found guilty mostly of being a freak. That have-it-both-ways storytelling doesn’t make Phil Spector a great legal movie, but it allows two exceptional actors and a talented writer a chance to play with reality.
  8. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Mar 21, 2013
    42
    A frustrating film that leaves the questions--pretty much all of them--unanswered.
  9. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Mar 22, 2013
    63
    This is essentially a dialogue between baffled attorney and baffling client, which makes for an arid 95 minutes. [1 Apr 2013]
  10. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    Mar 20, 2013
    100
    Mirren and Pacino are fantastic, and Tambor rightfully underplays the larger-than-life Cutler, who rivals Spector himself.
  11. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Mar 22, 2013
    40
    As good as the performances are and as fascinating it might be to see the inner workings of a celebrity trial where money was apparently no object, Phil Spector plays like a docudrama.
  12. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Mar 21, 2013
    83
    In the end, Phil Spector succeeds on the strength of its two marquee thespians. Mirren is wonderful throughout, Pacino scores in double figures and they have enough scenes together to make it all well worth your while.
  13. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Mar 21, 2013
    100
    Mamet is very much on his game in Phil Spector, but so is every member of his cast, including Al Pacino as Spector and Helen Mirren as attorney Linda Kenny Baden: Watching these two titans of acting work is half the fun.
  14. Reviewed by: Alessandra Stanley
    Mar 21, 2013
    40
    In Phil Spector the facts of the case and the characters are molded to allow viewers to doubt Mr. Spector’s guilt. But even with a Mamet screenplay and actors like Mr. Pacino and Ms. Mirren there is not much anyone can do to make the audience care.
  15. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Mar 22, 2013
    40
    Phil Spector is a wordy and unappealingly clinical character sketch.
  16. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Mar 25, 2013
    10
    It’s an insidious whitewash of a convicted killer and an infamous smear of his victim. It’s a shame on all involved.... The closest thing to fairness in Phil Spector is the blow-you-away performance by Al Pacino in the title role.
  17. 70
    Pacino and Mirren’s teamwork keeps Phil Spector watchable even when it’s dousing itself in dramatic ethanol and lighting a match.
  18. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Mar 22, 2013
    30
    Phil Spector--potentially a camp classic about self-aggrandizement and megalomania--is simply a self-satisfied vanity project.
  19. Reviewed by: Curt Wagner
    Mar 20, 2013
    88
    Mamet and his actors have created a fascinating character study that puts our notions of prejudice, celebrity, media and justice in the spotlight.
  20. Reviewed by: Dorothy Rabinowitz
    Mar 21, 2013
    90
    To watch Mr. Pacino's Spector pull himself back from the edge to shout, bitterly, that of course he knows this is only a rehearsal--he'll go on, awkwardly, to assure the shaken defense team that they've done well--is to feel the full force of the intelligence behind this drama.
  21. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Mar 26, 2013
    40
    Phil Spector is missing dramatic tension. It’s staged as a movie but it’s constructed more like a play, with plenty of scenes of two people exchanging Mametian dialogue in claustrophobic spaces.
  22. From Spector's verbal bluster, to all the chatter about ballistics and forensics, it's a very talkie 90 minutes, occasionally punctuated by a haunting soundtrack. But the high-caliber performers, as well as Mamet's sparkling dialogue, keep things compelling.
  23. Reviewed by: Tom Long
    Mar 22, 2013
    75
    Mamet is known for tight, pointed dramas, and he holds true to his rep here, creating a mystery, procedural and character study all in one.
  24. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    May 29, 2013
    40
    Both actors [Al Pacino and Helen Mirren] could thrive with this story (Pacino's a ringer for Spector) but Mamet speculates a bit too much. Had he eliminated the title character entirely, it might have been more intriguing.
  25. Reviewed by: Clark Collis
    Mar 15, 2013
    83
    The film costars an on-form Helen Mirren as Linda Kenney Baden, one of Spector's real-life defense attorneys.... Pacino too is excellent. [22 Mar 2013, p.58]
  26. Reviewed by: Sara Smith
    Mar 25, 2013
    30
    Mamet has supplied Phil Spector with his signature rapid-fire dialogue, but nameless attorneys and consultants interrupting one another only set the table for more tiresome time with Pacino.
  27. Reviewed by: Geoff Berkshire
    Mar 26, 2013
    40
    While it's never as silly or artless as HBO's overpraised "Game Change," Spector is low-stakes, procedure-oriented and deliberately claustrophobic, lacking in the sort of sharply pointed dialogue one may expect from Mamet
  28. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Mar 21, 2013
    63
    Phil Spector is just about ideal as an HBO movie; watchable and gossip-worthy but just not that compelling.
  29. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Mar 21, 2013
    90
    It is surely is Mamet’s strongest drama in ages, and a seductive, devious essay on the tortured celebrity soul.
  30. Reviewed by: John Semley
    Mar 21, 2013
    50
    Despite the more honest pleasures of something like You Don't Know Jack, Phil Spector's nominal entertainment value proceeds almost entirely from its status as an explosive camp object, buoyed by the promise of seeing Pacino yell his way through Mamet's dialogue as the eccentric record producer turned convicted murderer in an overstated wall of sound.
User Score
5.1

Mixed or average reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 2 out of 4
  1. Sep 1, 2014
    6
    Regardless of whether it is true or not--it's held together by two strong performances and wonderful writing. Phil Spector is a bold view of aRegardless of whether it is true or not--it's held together by two strong performances and wonderful writing. Phil Spector is a bold view of a nationally recognized court case--by the end, you'll have plenty of opinions. Full Review »
  2. Mar 18, 2014
    10
    Pacino and Mirren are absolutely fantastic in this! And Mamet wonderfully captures Spector's tortured soul and Linda's determination, which isPacino and Mirren are absolutely fantastic in this! And Mamet wonderfully captures Spector's tortured soul and Linda's determination, which is just as strong as her (Mirren's) performance. Full Review »
  3. Apr 2, 2013
    3
    Nothing about this film pops out. It seems like any other HBO show. Sure it features big names but they give dull performances rarely evenNothing about this film pops out. It seems like any other HBO show. Sure it features big names but they give dull performances rarely even shaping a character. The story is plain and would have been the same difference as a documentary. Full Review »