Unknown White Male (2006) - Rotten Tomatoes

Unknown White Male (2006)



Critic Consensus: With a quirky visual style, this documentary follows a story of memory loss and confusion while posing provocative questions about the nature of personality.

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Movie Info

Douglas Bruce was a British expatriate living in New York City who in the early morning hours of July 3, 2003, found himself on a subway train heading toward Coney Island, with no memory of who he was, where he lived, or how he ended up on the subway. Bruce ended up asking a policeman for help, and was checked into the psychiatric ward at Coney Island Hospital. As doctors struggled to find out what had happened to him, he was admitted simply as "unknown white male." In time, a phone number in Bruce's wallet led doctors to a friend who identified him, but he himself still had absolutely no memory of his past. Rupert Murray was an old friend of Bruce's who heard about his condition and came to visit him with camera in tow and a stack of old home movies to reintroduce Bruce to his past. However, when he arrived in New York, Murray saw an old friend, but found a courteous but wary stranger looking back, and found that the "new" Douglas Bruce was in many ways a different man than the old Bruce. Murray followed Bruce as he struggled to relearn his own life, understand the history he could no longer recall, and grew into a new person with a new personality, and Unknown White Male is a documentary assembled from Murray's footage of both the new and old Dougs. Unknown White Male received its North American premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (for drug references and brief strong language)
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 5, 2006
Wellspring Media - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Unknown White Male

All Critics (81) | Top Critics (28)

It doesn't help Bruce's cause that he is seen in archive footage to have been a smug, arrogant fellow; it's tempting to imagine that his memory has abandoned him in exasperation. A case of amnesia as overdue self-discovery, perhaps?

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Given that this retrograde memory loss has cleansed Doug Bruce's perceptions and made him an altogether more open and emotional person, Unknown White Male suggests that amnesia could be the ultimate chicken soup for the soul.

Full Review… | May 12, 2006
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

In the end, it fails to offer any insight into the philosophical question it poses.

Full Review… | April 13, 2006
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

The whole movie feels sorta like a snow job.

Full Review… | April 6, 2006
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Unknown White Male has moments you won't forget, appropriate praise for a documentary about amnesia.

Full Review… | April 1, 2006
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

The Unknown White Male that Murray has made asks profound questions. They're just not necessarily the right ones.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Unknown White Male


[font=Century Gothic]"Unknown White Male" is an eye-opening documentary made by Rupert Murray about his friend, Doug Bruce, a stockbroker turned photographer, who lost his complete memory on July 2, 2003 for no apparent reason.(And you thought they were making up the weird stuff on "House", didn't you?) His instincts are still there but he needs somebody to come to Coney Island Hospital to identify him which luckily does happen. After that, the movie captures his long journey to reconnect with family and friends, as he rediscovers the world around him.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Unknown White Male" takes a stab at what makes us who we are but this is a huge topic and all this documentary can do in its relatively short running time is to scratch the surface. Personally, I think we are half the creation of our parents and environment and the other half is what we biologically bring to the table. In short, we will always have our family but our friends we make along the way. And as our lives change; our friends change, too.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

This is an interested documentary about a guy that woke up on a subway with no memory of who he was and no identification on him, only a girls name and phone number. Doug Bruce, the amnesiac, discovers who he is and has to meet family and friends for the first time and decide what role they will play in his new life.

Phillip Renke

This is really strange...it'd be so hard to have to restart your life all over again. When watching this movie, the word that kept coming to my mind was "inconvenient". Doug wasn't too scared, just seemed irritated. I kept wondering if he was faking the whole thing...it just seems too bizarre!

Lizz Nizz

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