The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2006)



Critic Consensus: Whether you think this mentally ill cult musician is worthy of being called a "genius," this document of his life is crafted with sincere respect and is fascinating to watch.

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Movie Info

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical genius that nearly slipped away. It depicts a perfect example of brilliance and madness going hand in hand. Because Daniel Johnston is an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites mark his life. The film artfully melds current footage, vintage performances, home movies, and dozens of recorded audiotapes from Johnston's life. Testimony from … More

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, drug content, and language including a sexual reference)
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By:
Written By: Jeff Feuerzeig
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 19, 2006
Sony Picture Classics - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Johnston

All Critics (111) | Top Critics (35)

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is an unflinching yet loving look at the outsider musician's life. It's also the most revealing look at genius and mental illness since Terry Zwigoff's 1994 documentary Crumb.

Full Review… | August 10, 2006
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

A heartbreaking, yet strangely uplifting and inspirational, exploration of the fine line between genius and madness, and how sometimes, one becomes impossible to discern from the other.

Full Review… | June 9, 2006
Miami Herald
Top Critic

While the movie is interesting as a curiosity, it ultimately reflects on the people who erroneously believe in the heightened quality of Johnston's overrated music.

Full Review… | April 20, 2009

While a bit draggy in places, the film nonetheless holds up quite well as an enjoyable biopic of a underground musical madman. The "genius" moniker does get dangled a bit too often, there's certainly enough beauty and power in Daniel Jonston's music to su

Full Review… | June 21, 2007
Film Scouts

Riveting even when it borders on the hagiographic.

Full Review… | November 13, 2006
Lessons of Darkness

Resembles Crumb in its depiction of damaged souls whose only refuge is art.

October 1, 2006
Groucho Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Johnston

This fascinating stranger-than-fiction documentary is a beautiful statement about ambition, art, and insanity. It's not clear why Daniel Johnston himself was not interviewed in the making of the film when every major character in his life is, so instead of recent footage we mostly get low-production visual and audio quality (which admittedly mirrors his musical style perfectly). Still, it does justice to Daniel, his music, and his art, and is one of the more arresting character study documentaries I've seen.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Sometimes genius is mistaken for crazy, and sometimes crazy is mistaken for genius. Falling dead into the latter camp, here is the story of a delusional soul who wished himself better than he was ( and still needed psych drugs ) and both the people who believed him along with those who knew the truth. The agonized look on the faces of this character's parents alone will haunt you for weeks.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

A fascinating, ticklish and heart-ful look at this tortured artist's soul. It's a great watch to those who have never heard of Daniel yet, and his tearful art and sad but colorful life.

Adriel Lim
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer

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