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Project Nim Reviews

David Rooney
Hollywood Reporter
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This haunting life story is an exquisite example of non-fiction filmmaking as full-bodied, emotionally complex drama.

Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter

January 4, 2012
Leah Rozen
The Wrap
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Project Nim nimbly serves up a profoundly sad tale that raises as many thought-provoking questions as it answers.

Full Review Source: The Wrap

October 7, 2011
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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This many-faceted time capsule sheds little light, but buried inside it are vexing questions and the still-beating heart of a special creature.

Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Original Score: 3.5/4

August 12, 2011
John Hartl
Seattle Times
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You end up fearing for the humans who contact him. At the same time, you feel his rage.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

August 11, 2011
David Jenkins
Time Out
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You're left with the impression that, despite not being able to grasp basic human grammar, perhaps Nim was unwittingly conditioned into understanding the concept of love.

Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 4/5

August 9, 2011
Stephen Cole
Globe and Mail
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For the second film in a row, Marsh has created a movie we can't keep our eyes off.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 29, 2011
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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Marsh ... masterfully spins a harrowing tale of human arrogance that eventually gives way to cruelty bordering on the pathological.

Full Review Source: Washington Post | Original Score: 3/4

July 21, 2011
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Nim is as unforgettable as the treatment of him is unspeakable.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 21, 2011
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
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Like the experiment itself, "Project Nim" morphs from something inspiring and often humorous to a pointed and disturbing portrait of arrogance run amok. Greed and glory end up overriding decency and altruism, and it's heartbreaking to watch.

Full Review Source: Associated Press | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 19, 2011
Amy Biancolli
San Francisco Chronicle
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After watching "Project Nim," a distressing portrait of a misguided 1970s language experiment, you'll be glad you're not a chimp in a cage. But you might want to revoke your membership in the human race.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

July 15, 2011
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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What makes this film especially engrossing is that what happened between that chimp and the humans with whom he spent his life in intimate contact turns out to be only half the story that Marsh, who directed the electrifying "Man on Wire," has to tell.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 4/5

July 14, 2011
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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Marsh tells this story clearly and sympathetically, and he has the backlog of film and the witnesses to do so.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 14, 2011
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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At times hilarious but ultimately heartbreaking, "Project Nim" is a great chronicle of the 1970s and all the nutty ideas that implies; academia in particular comes in for a hard reckoning.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 4.5/5

July 14, 2011
William Goss
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The film as a whole maintains a precarious but rewarding balance between multi-generational soap opera and simplistic animal-rights agitprop.

Full Review Source:

July 11, 2011
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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For a film where so many people seem, in varying degrees, culpable, Marsh indulges in very little finger-pointing. He doesn't need to. The indignities are hiding in plain sight.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: B+

July 8, 2011
Ella Taylor
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Marsh never speaks on or off camera, but his editing of the testimony makes clear his belief that in trying to make Nim more human, his teachers made themselves less so.

Full Review Source: NPR

July 8, 2011
Dana Stevens
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It's a gripping, unsentimental, at times unbearably sad real-life drama about an animal torn from his own world and stranded in the human one.

Full Review Source: Slate

July 8, 2011
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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A documentary detailing man's inhumanity to beast, "Project Nim" ends up going past that to ask a deeper, disturbing question: Just who is the man, and who is the beast?

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 4/4

July 8, 2011
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
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If only this were a media-fueled tall tale and not one poor creature's lifelong nightmare.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 4/5

July 8, 2011
Andrew O'Hehir
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A darkly hilarious social portrait of the bizarre alternate universe of 1970s academia and an extraordinary biography of a non-human individual, on whom all sorts of human desires and ideologies were projected.

Full Review Source:

July 8, 2011
Kyle Smith
New York Post
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Brilliant, provocative, clear of eye and heavy of heart...

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 4/4

July 8, 2011
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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'Project Nim,' an enthralling and appalling documentary by James Marsh, chronicles the collision of two species.

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

July 7, 2011
A.O. Scott
New York Times
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Mr. Marsh, by allowing those closest to Nim plenty of room to explain themselves, examines the moral complexity of this story without didacticism.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 3/5

July 7, 2011
Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
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Sexual politics, family dynamics, the debate over heredity versus environment, and the dubious ethics of scientific research on animals are rigorously explored in this ambitious, bittersweet work.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

July 7, 2011
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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A very absorbing film.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 7, 2011
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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"Project Nim" is practically irresistible. The story keeps getting odder and richer and more complicated.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 7, 2011
Keith Uhlich
Time Out New York
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The good news is that the film's stylistic excesses don't negate the many fascinating aspects of Nim's story.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 3/5

July 6, 2011
Rob Nelson
Village Voice
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Marsh's film remains a deeply haunting portrait of the unbridgeable gap between kindred species.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

July 5, 2011
David Edelstein
New York Magazine
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Marsh's documentaries are inspired fusions of content and style, and here, the artistry intensifies the pain.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine

July 4, 2011
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
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Project Nim, a fascinating and in many ways tragic documentary, takes us back to one of the high-water marks of the apes-are-people-too era.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B+

June 29, 2011
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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Here's a documentary so slick, novel, touching and outrageous that your first thought might be "This has to be fake."

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 3.5/4

April 6, 2011
Peter Debruge
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A provocative and surprisingly emotional saga that ranges from wrenching to downright hilarious as it spans more than a quarter-century of unpredictable twists.

Full Review Source: Variety

January 22, 2011
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