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Big River Man (2009)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 31
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 3

Big River Man offers uniquely absorbing insight into a larger-than-life eccentric.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

Big River Man offers uniquely absorbing insight into a larger-than-life eccentric.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 452

My Rating

Movie Info

Eccentric Slovenian endurance swimmer Martin Strel attempts to swim the Amazon.


Documentary, Sports & Fitness

Dec 21, 2010

Revolver Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (3)

Strel is one strange duck, and you can only wonder that Werner Herzog, with his fondness for captivating weirdos, didn't get to him first.

May 27, 2010 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An odd and irresistible documentary about Slovenian strongman Martin Strel and his quest, at 52, to be the first man to swim 5,268 kilometres of the Amazon River.

December 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As his attention to detail and beauty shots prove, Mr. Maringouin has a terrific eye: he brings you close to Mr. Strel, sometimes within panting distance, without forgetting the larger, lovelier world.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The real drama lies in the sweetly twisted symbiosis between this likable, infuriating wreck of a man and his devoted son and publicist.

December 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A nonfiction Fitzcarraldo.

December 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If Werner Herzog had made 'Borat', the results might have been something like this documentary about the unusual athletic overachiever Martin Strel.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's clear almost instantly that Strel's life is, despite the breadth of his various accomplishments, simply not interesting enough to warrant a full-length feature...

July 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comment (1)
Reel Film Reviews

Slovenia's 'fish man' pushes himself to the limit- and beyond.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source:

Gripes aside, I do think Big River Man is an exemplary film, and possibly a top contender for the documentary of the year.

May 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Big River Man is strange and wonderful and quite an experience at the cinema.

December 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Whether you understand Borut's patchy storytelling to be artful or actually bewildered, the film goes along for the ride.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Big River Man is a marketing tool for the hard-drinking, overweight Slovenian swimmer Martin Strel, only it's disguised as a global warming awareness tale of human endurance.

November 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

It's a messy film - a few scenes look to be reconstructions, and the lack of any interview with Strel himself is frustrating - but it certainly shows us a colourful part of life's rich tapestry.

September 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

The man is a mad obsessive and one is surprised that he hasn't ended up in the exotic trophy room of Werner Herzog, whose films Big River Man resembles.

September 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Entertaining more as a portrait of a slightly unhinged sportsman than the biography of stunt.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Big River Man is up there with the very best modern documentaries.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

There's something undeniably charming about such an amateurish attempt to establish a world record.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK] | Comments (2)
Times [UK]

A bizarre, occasionally troubling documentary.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian

For all the straight-faced self-mockery, it somehow remains a tribute to an exceptional man. Big River Man gets away with its archness only because it's evident that somewhere beneath its layers of irony, there is a beating heart.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Director John Maringouin has chanced upon documentary gold - Strel is the sort of off-kilter character even the most imaginative fiction writer would have had troiuble dreaming up.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Audience Reviews for Big River Man

Big river man is like a comedy Werner Herzog documentary. The comedy never seems staged either, Martin Strel is a larger than life character with peculiar mannerisms and a slightly unhinged group of followers who you just couldn't make up. You can't fake the swimming either. It's not just a comedy though, it deals quite seriously with the dangers of obsession and the descent into madness. It's got a very appropriate amateur feel about it (probably because it is amateur) but it does loose a few points for trying to be clever at the end. It all gets a little expressionist, a little existential and dabbles in a bit of symbolism - something that just doesn't work with constant narration. Still, it is just a minor criticism, I haven't enjoyed a documentary this much in a long time and I highly recommend it!
March 25, 2011

Super Reviewer

So why on earth do we not know about Martin Strel outside of this film? He is likely one of the most fascinating people that you will encounter. An overweight alcoholic who somehow manages to find the endurance to swim major rivers. The tale is marvellous.
January 30, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Great doc about Martin Strel, an endurance swimmer who attempts to swim the amazon.  Narrated by his son, the film takes an unexpected turn into madness as Martin spends day after day swimming.  His navigator Matt is the perfect Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now.
July 13, 2010

Super Reviewer

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