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Unknown White Male (2006)


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

Critics 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.

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

Critics 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.


Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 80,870


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 … More

PG-13 (for drug references and brief strong language)
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Sep 5, 2006
Wellspring Media - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Unknown White Male

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?

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

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

Full Review… | June 14, 2008
Eye for Film

I found this unsettling story to be gripping.

Full Review… | November 6, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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

Full Review… | August 30, 2006

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.

Full Review… | August 18, 2006
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.

Full Review… | July 13, 2006
Film Journal International

Essentially Nature vs. Nurture: The Movie.

Full Review… | May 4, 2006

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.

Full Review… | April 21, 2006
One Guy's Opinion

Another intriguing tale of retrograde memory loss.

Full Review… | April 11, 2006

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

Full Review… | April 11, 2006

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

Full Review… | April 7, 2006

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.

Full Review… | April 7, 2006

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

Full Review… | April 7, 2006
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.

Full Review… | April 1, 2006
Austin Chronicle

Never as enthralling as it seems like it should be.

Full Review… | March 31, 2006
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.

Anthony Lawrie

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]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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