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Finding Vivian Maier

8/10
Mystery . Biography . Documentary
 

Vivian Maier's photos were seemingly destined for obscurity, lost among the clutter of the countless objects she'd collected throughout her life. Instead these images have shaken the world of street photography and irrevocably changed the life of the man who brought them to the public eye. This film brings to life the interesting turns and travails of the improbable saga of John Maloof's discovery of Vivian Maier, unravelling this mysterious tale through her documentary films, photographs, odd collections and personal accounts from the people that knew her. What started as a blog to show her work quickly became a viral sensation in the photography world. Photos destined for the trash heap now line gallery exhibitions, a forthcoming book and this documentary film.

 
Actors: Simon Amédé , Daniel Arnaud , John Maloof , Vivian Maier
Directors: John Maloof , Charlie Siskel
Country: USA
Release: 2014-04-17
More Info:
  • Peter Rainer

    Maier is a great artist who discounted adulation entirely. Her life was a masquerade; her genius, quite literally, was unexposed.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Chris Nashawaty

    More connect-the-dots detective thriller than traditional doc, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s revelatory riddle of a film unmasks a brilliant photographer who hid in plain sight for decades working as an eccentric French nanny.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    One part personal mystery and one part art-appreciation class.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Mary Houlihan

    It’s a big puzzle that the filmmakers piece together in an intriguing and engrossing way.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Vivian Maier is a great Chicago story. And what she did for, and with, the faces, neighborhoods and character of mid-20th century Chicago deserves comparison to what Robert Frank accomplished, in a wider format, with "The Americans."

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    Hers is a sad story, but the fact that she never received recognition during her lifetime isn't part of its sadness.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    Through dogged research and interviews with the (now-grown) children Maier cared for, along with their parents (including Phil Donahue), a profile emerges, and it's fascinating.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    What we find out about Maier, revealed in self-portraits as a striking woman with a singular sense of self, is fascinating.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Ernest Hardy

    Because her tale is so fascinating, movie-making formula is all that's needed.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Rob Nelson

    [An] initially playful, ultimately haunting documentary.

    Variety Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    There are no hard truths to be found in Finding Vivian Maier (really, how could there be?), but it’s an engrossing doc nevertheless – a portrait of an American artist hiding in plain sight, a mystery with too few clues, and a sincere inquiry into how best to divine the wishes of the dead.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    One of the great strengths of Finding Vivian Maier is the filmmakers’ willingness to gently thread ethical inquiry in and out of the film.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Walter Addiego

    An engaging documentary attempt to probe her mystery, and it offers some answers - she was secretive and stubborn, a hoarder of epic proportions who seems to have had fits of instability. She also wasn't always nice to her young charges.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Ella Taylor

    The resulting documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, might better have been titled Constructing Vivian Maier — not because the filmmakers came up empty-handed, but because what they found out sheds too neat and tidy a light on her unsparing, yet warmly sympathetic portraits of the denizens of Chicago's seamy underside.

    NPR Full Review
  • Adam Nayman

    Some may find Finding Vivian Maier invasive, since Maloof and co-director Charlie Siskel delved into its namesake’s past after her death, but their curiosity is genuine rather than prurient; this is the rare example of a documentary about an enigmatic subject that doesn’t pretend to know all the answers.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Farran Smith Nehme

    John Maloof’s documentary has an opening both apt and witty: Talking heads, one after the other, struck dumb by the mystery at hand.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    The film, which [Mr. Maloof] directed with Charlie Siskel, is absorbing, touching and satisfyingly enjoyable because Maier was a fascinating, poignant and somewhat enigmatic woman.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Scott Tobias

    The question of whether Maier, a recluse, would have ever wanted someone like Maloof to bring her into the light is troubling, and perhaps impossible to resolve, but Maloof’s passion for her work and his boundless curiosity about her history certainly make for a riveting documentary.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Boyd van Hoeij

    [A] sleekly assembled and intriguing if clearly very commercial proposition.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Mark Feeney

    The chief problem is the documentary’s misapprehension of the artistic personality.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    She was a true talent. And yet Maloof and Siskel’s film presents an interesting moral quandary along with its profile of an amazing photographer. When does creative ability and the desire to share a true artist’s eye trump what has to be considered an invasion of privacy?

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Nick McCarthy

    This is less a portrait of an artist as a young woman than a psychological evaluation of a slippery subject.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Simon Kinnear

    Mostly, it’s a study of an analogue ghost turned digital star; yet because Maloof is vested in building Maier’s reputation, the film leaves some uncomfortable questions about the ethics of posthumous fame.

    Total Film Full Review
  • David Parkinson

    An intriguing look at a lost voice.

    Empire Full Review
  • Keith Uhlich

    Maier’s images are truly stunning—vivid documents of the working class that are off-the-cuff yet rigorously composed, always capturing that enigmatic bit of her subject’s soul that leaves you in spine-tingled awe.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    The truth is far stranger. And Maloof and Siskel reveal it only gradually. They structure their documentary thusly — negatives found, fame and acclaim follow, a post-mortem triumph. And then the REAL Vivian starts to emerge.

    Movie Nation Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    Even as this fine documentary unveils the "mystery woman," as she once described herself, it remains intent on the molding of her myth. [31 March 2014, p.80]

    The New Yorker Full Review