The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2006)



Critic Consensus: Whether you think this mentally ill cult musician is worthy of being called a "genius," this document of his life is crafted with sincere respect and is fascinating to watch.

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Movie Info

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical genius that nearly slipped away. It depicts a perfect example of brilliance and madness going hand in hand. Because Daniel Johnston is an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites mark his life. The film artfully melds current footage, vintage performances, home movies, and dozens of recorded audiotapes from Johnston's life. Testimony from supportive friends and a deeply committed family adds a rich layer to Johnston's personal history, but Daniel Johnston's poetic songs tell their own passionate, haunting, and truly unforgettable story.
PG-13 (for thematic elements, drug content, and language including a sexual reference)
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
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Critic Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Johnston

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (34)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 26, 2007
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is an unflinching yet loving look at the outsider musician's life. It's also the most revealing look at genius and mental illness since Terry Zwigoff's 1994 documentary Crumb.

Full Review… | August 10, 2006
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

A heartbreaking, yet strangely uplifting and inspirational, exploration of the fine line between genius and madness, and how sometimes, one becomes impossible to discern from the other.

June 9, 2006
Miami Herald
Top Critic

I found the documentary surprisingly diverting as a case study.

Full Review… | May 11, 2006
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

To share Feuerzeig's loving investigation is to share an insightful study of the destructive and creative capabilities of the mind.

Full Review… | May 3, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Johnston

This fascinating stranger-than-fiction documentary is a beautiful statement about ambition, art, and insanity. It's not clear why Daniel Johnston himself was not interviewed in the making of the film when every major character in his life is, so instead of recent footage we mostly get low-production visual and audio quality (which admittedly mirrors his musical style perfectly). Still, it does justice to Daniel, his music, and his art, and is one of the more arresting character study documentaries I've seen.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Sometimes genius is mistaken for crazy, and sometimes crazy is mistaken for genius. Falling dead into the latter camp, here is the story of a delusional soul who wished himself better than he was ( and still needed psych drugs ) and both the people who believed him along with those who knew the truth. The agonized look on the faces of this character's parents alone will haunt you for weeks.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

A fascinating, ticklish and heart-ful look at this tortured artist's soul. It's a great watch to those who have never heard of Daniel yet, and his tearful art and sad but colorful life.

Adriel Lim
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer

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