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The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2006)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 106
Fresh: 94 | Rotten: 12

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.


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 2

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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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 25,244

My Rating

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

Sep 19, 2006

Sony Picture Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (111) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (12) | DVD (12)

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.

August 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop 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.

June 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I found the documentary surprisingly diverting as a case study.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

To share Feuerzeig's loving investigation is to share an insightful study of the destructive and creative capabilities of the mind.

May 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This well-done documentary will explain why Johnston has never been able to rise above cult status ...

April 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
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Feuerzeig was able to fashion such a thorough, engaging film partly because aficionados such as Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth shot so much footage of Johnston performing and acting out.

April 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop 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.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

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

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

Riveting even when it borders on the hagiographic.

November 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

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

October 1, 2006
Groucho Reviews

... a haunting portrait of an artist walking on the edge, that shows his pain in a very real way.

September 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Regardless of whether you like Daniel Johnston's music or, indeed, whether you can even tolerate it, Johnston is an undeniably riveting documentary subject

July 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A haunting, frequently unsettling documentary about the blurry line between madness and genius.

July 15, 2006

A paean to the artist as a tortured genius. I can't deny that Johnston has the tortured part down pat. It's the genius part I'm having trouble accepting.

July 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) | Comment (1)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A fascinating look at this epically tortured artist.

July 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

What makes Devil fascinating is the harrowing arc of Johnston's life. This is a story of youthful promise undermined by horrendous mental illness.

June 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

"The Devil and Daniel Johnston" is really something special, avoiding easy answers, skirting the expected cliches, drawing us deeper into the life of a fascinating and complex man.

June 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

By far the best film of this first half of 2006.

June 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

Feuerzeig's kaleidoscopic film is the perfect frame for Daniel Johnston's odd world.

June 23, 2006
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada) as a biographical sketch of the artist as madman and as a meditation on the prerogatives of genius.

June 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

There's something truly illuminating in the telling of Daniel Johnston's story and his painful struggle with bipolar disorder.

June 8, 2006
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Touching, funny and sad.

June 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Both riveting and disturbing to watch.

June 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Since Johnston was prolific and a pack rat, director Jeff Feuerzeig had access to a life's worth of audio recordings, short films and animation dating back to the formative equivalent of the refrigerator art of Johnston's childhood.

June 2, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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.
October 14, 2013
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.
February 22, 2013

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.
October 4, 2012
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer

A great documentary about a really fascinating guy.
January 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

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