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Unknown White Male (2006)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Reviews Counted: 76
Fresh: 56 | Rotten: 20

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


Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 7

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



liked it
Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 80,867

My Rating

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

Sep 5, 2006

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All Critics (81) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (20) | DVD (5)

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?

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

April 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The whole movie feels sorta like a snow job.

April 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

March 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whether the story is true or not does have a bearing on how good you think it is.

June 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

I found this unsettling story to be gripping.

November 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Doug's story is endlessly fascinating, the sort of thing that leaves you thinking about it for days.

August 30, 2006 Full Review Source:

That the fugue-state victim is movie-star handsome doesn't hurt the appeal of the film at all, both from a commercial and empathetic viewpoint.

August 18, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Unknown White Male picks up where films like Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind leave off, examining the larger implications and aftereffects of memory loss instead of primarily employing it (however effectively) as a plot device.

July 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Essentially Nature vs. Nurture: The Movie.

May 4, 2006 Full Review Source:

Amnesia has been a staple of movies from time immemorial, but few, if any, of them have cut to the bone the way this modest documentary does.

April 21, 2006 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Another intriguing tale of retrograde memory loss.

April 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Compuserve

A fascinating documentary, which traces the process by which its subject learns about his 'old' self, whilst adjusting to an invigorated everyday existence.

April 11, 2006 Full Review Source:

Paints an absorbing, even haunting picture of one life wiped away and a new one begun.

April 7, 2006 Full Review Source:

Whether it's a real case captured by an incurious filmmaker, a hoax perpetrated on an incurious filmmaker or an audacious bit of Blair Witch fakery, the movie gets you thinking about the nature of identity and the power of memory.

April 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Even if Rupert Murray's film does turn out to be a hoax, there's no denying the ingenuity involved in its making.

April 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

When it's at its best, Unknown White Male can be stirring and thought-provoking, but too often it's lax and complacent when what's called for is something more probing and investigative.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Never as enthralling as it seems like it should be.

March 31, 2006 Full Review
Denton Record Chronicle (TX)

Despite the fact that Doug has amnesia, there's nothing really interesting about the guy or his friends that justifies spending 90 minutes with him

March 27, 2006
Eclipse Magazine

Audience Reviews for Unknown White Male

A fantastic story, the first 20 minutes or so were very intriguing but then we get to know the man. Doug Bruce is (or should that be was) a bit of an annoying guy and unfortunately that took away a lot of my interest in his story. Lots of aspects of his memory loss are not addressed either, at times I did wonder if it was a hoax and I'm still not entirely sure it isn't. Too much about the unlikable man and not enough about the condition for my liking but worth a watch.
January 4, 2011

Super Reviewer

[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]
May 20, 2007
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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