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Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work (2010)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 99
Fresh: 90 | Rotten: 9

Penetrating Rivers' coarse image, this compelling documentary offers an honest, behind-the-scenes look at her career -- and at show business in general.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 4

Penetrating Rivers' coarse image, this compelling documentary offers an honest, behind-the-scenes look at her career -- and at show business in general.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 11,874

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Movie Info

Joan Rivers launched her career as a standup comic in the early '60s, a time when female comedians were few and far between, and after several years of working nightclubs to unresponsive audiences, she was booked on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1965 and soon became one of the most successful comedy acts in the nation. Since then, Rivers has hosted several TV talk shows, written best-selling books, directed a feature film, launched a line of jewelry, and kept up a busy schedule of


Documentary, Television, Comedy


Ricki Stern

Dec 14, 2010


IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (100) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (90) | Rotten (9) | DVD (3)

This behind the scenes, behind the makeup, behind the plastic surgery documentary catches Rivers hard at work, ridiculously hard at work.

August 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The new documentary on Joan Rivers is so in your face, so fraught with harrowing, oversized personal stuff, you might want to get a theatre seat a couple of rows behind where you normally sit, to safely take it all in.

August 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Welcome to the on-screen psychoanalysis of Joan Rivers, of which she seems equal parts willing participant and antagonist.

July 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Acting is about honesty, and there's something evasive about both this film and its subject.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A compulsively watchable look at Rivers, show business and the price one pays to try to continue succeeding in it.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rivers comes across as someone much more complex and vulnerable than her abrasive "Can we talk?" persona. There's a real woman under there, and she's pretty great.

June 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

it's amazing to look into her world and see the chaos in which she inhabits

January 5, 2014 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

This delicious documentary did teach me about one of Joan's most important assets, and that's her dirty, dirty mouth.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Gordon and the Whale
Gordon and the Whale

Laugh clown, laugh. Even though your heart is breaking...

January 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Rivers' story is an inspiration, regardless of your background. If there is anyone who is aspiring to be in the entertainment industry, this is the doc to watch. Joan Rivers' life is the blueprint for any artist, comedienne, or actor.

January 3, 2011 Full Review Source:

[A] sad, startling exploration of the vagaries of fame, the insecurities of celebrity, and the realities behind the typical 'but it's just a joke' excuses that prop up cheap, vulgar humor.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

This is a woman who's taken any number of private and public punches and keeps on going. The portrait here is neither flattering nor unsympathetic.

December 27, 2010 Full Review Source:

...a well made, sporadically fascinating documentary...

December 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

I had no idea how hard she works and how funny she is. Show business may be easy for some people, but it is tough for Joan Rivers.

December 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

If you want an insight into human nature, stand up comedy and stand up comedians are a great looking glass, as long as you're prepared for all that pain. All great comedy is cruel, and Joan Rivers does cruel really well

September 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

I laughed, I cried and I was inspired. Delivering far more than you expect, this knock-out doco spits out the essence of Joan Rivers, who admits she is only truly happy when she's on stage

September 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

"A Piece of Work" displays a comedian who is much savvier, much more vulnerable and frankly much funnier than we usually see on the small screen.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin State Journal

This is a fiercely intelligent, maniacally driven, crushingly funny comedian who comes across as less a human being than a sentient career.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

If you think it's going to be as hilarious as a Joan Rivers standup routine, you're wrong. The self-mocking jokes are funny, but almost make you feel guilty for laughing.

August 13, 2010 Full Review Source:

Unvarnished documentary.

July 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The film shows that she is vulnerable, professionally calculating and, except for the people who work for her, alone.

July 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel may not come away from Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's (blisteringly funny) chronicle of a year in the life of the comedian ... liking Joan Rivers, much less understanding her, but by gosh this movie is going to force you to respect her.

July 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The audience will feel like a fly on the wall in a no-holds-barred approach in which no topic is off limits. The filmmakers condensed more than a year of footage into 84 fascinating minutes...

July 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

Joan Rivers the comedian can be an acquired taste. It gets old hearing her asking celebrities on the red carpet "Who are you wearing?" Joan Rivers the human being, however, is a fascinating person to follow.

July 24, 2010 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work

This is a documentary that showcases a year in the life for comedian Joan Rivers. Follows her as she tries to get a Broadway show off the ground, continues her stand-up, and her appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. For a woman in her 70's she is very busy, and trying to remain as relevant as ever. At times she comes off as sincere and sweet, then she comes off very hypocritical. For example, she talks very dirty about some people, then says her feelings are hurt as she gets Roasted for comedy central. She's still very funny, and a polarizing figure in the entertainment world. I'm sure a lot of people can't stand her, and sometimes I can't, but here this is more interesting than entertaining. Seen a lot better documentaries, especially ones on comedians(watched one on Don Rickles a few years ago that was amazing), but if your a Rivers fan, then this is a must watch.
July 14, 2012
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

I don't know that much about Joan Rivers, I know she's a comedian, I know she's had lots of plastic surgery and I know her humour. I didn't really learn anything from this film, other than her raging ego does take a 5 minute break once and a while but not very often. At times I felt sorry for her, she probably doesn't get the recognition she deserves but for all the times she has to defend her risky jokes, she comes across as pretty naive and resorts to being the victim and her tiring ego fuelled defence mechanism kicks in, and this is what people think of when they think of her. More CV/resume than fly on the wall documentary, she doesn't even seem to shy away from this fact either, she needs the work. I was never bored but it was only just a little more than mildly interesting, for the record though, I quite like her.
August 24, 2011

Super Reviewer

Wow, just wow. This movie is probably one of the most incisive, honest, painful, melancholic, roller coaster portraits of Hollywood and the woman chugging in its cogs that I've ever seen. That scene where she's taking off her makeup and the camera just focuses on her creasy, plasticized eyes gradually sagging, sagging, sagging - the light goes down and it is just magic.
May 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is a very honest depiction of her life and career and of show business that really opens your eyes and shows you who Joan Rivers really is. It's a funny, sad and inspiring documentary that's a must see for anyone who wants to be in the entertainment industry.
March 31, 2011
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

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