Radiant City (2007)
Radiant City, which represents the first collaboration between documentarist Gary Burns and journalist Jim Brown, takes as its springboard thesis the idea that suburban life is quickly becoming the norm for families across North America. It thus carries viewers inside of the "suburban mystique" via a protracted dissection of a clan that resides in a planned community, the Moss family. The film specifically examines how the suburban landscape, with its prefab houses, playgrounds, schools, strip malls, and community activities, continues to shape and define the lives and perceptions of these individuals -- from the father's involvement with a local theatrical troupe to the children's feelings of ennui and sense of removal from the neighbors in their subdivision. Burns offsets the picture's stark themes and undertones, however, with a sharp, wicked, and occasionally satirical sense of humor that never fails to catch the absurdities or ironies of this landscape. Musician Joey Santiago, from the band the Pixies, complements the images with a gritty rock soundtrack that draws out the sense of familial dislocation and desperation. The picture also traces the rise of suburbia historically, and features input by such suburban commentators as Mark Kingwell, from the University of Toronto, and writer James Howard Kunstler, who criticize the initial postwar model for suburban communities and suggest that it may not provide the optimal environment for living and raising a family. … More
Related News & Features
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Radiant City
The faux-documentary aspect of Radiant City is a huge gamble that doesn't pay off.
Suburban sprawl takes a well-deserved hit in Radiant City, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Gary Burns and journalist Jim Brown.
Blending documentary elements and some dramatic material, Radiant City is an acerbic position paper on the cultural damage done by postwar architectural fads.
[An] enlightening and disturbingly funny critique of North American suburban sprawl.
Radiant City is a movie about communities that offer everything prospective citizens might want or need, save this: a human reason to live there.
Although this National Film Board-produced film is promoted as a documentary, it's really a combination of essay and drama about that favourite bugbear, suburbia.
A sardonic look at suburban sprawl in Calgary. With its wry surrealistic touches, this is a movie that makes you smile while it makes you think. Highly recommended
Author James Howard Kunstler says the suburban landscape is "brutal" and "soul-draining," and it's hard to argue when the filmmakers show him sitting in a bike path "rest area," a little bench behind a chain-link fence with a view of the freeway.
Irrefutable evidence that post modern suburbia is an unmitigated disaster which can't deliver on its seductive promise to deliver the good life to refugees from the big city.
[A] sublimely slippery, slightly surreal and not entirely 'just the facts, ma'am' documentary.
It acknowledges the lure of urban sprawl is as every bit as phony yet intoxicating as the tug of cinema itself.
The pundits bring their considerable expertise to bear on out-of-control development that's on a reckless course of urban/ suburban destruction.
Audience Reviews for Radiant City
Why do they call this a documentary? It is made to look like a documentary but the people involved are all actors? Oops was that a spoiler? Serves you right Brown and Burns!More
Discuss Radiant City on our Movie forum!