Radiant City

2007

Radiant City

Critics Consensus

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94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 17

76%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,729
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Movie Info

Radiant City, which represents the first collaboration between documentarist Gary Burns and journalist Jim Brown, takes as its springboard thesis the idea that suburban life is quickly becoming the norm for families across North America. It thus carries viewers inside of the "suburban mystique" via a protracted dissection of a clan that resides in a planned community, the Moss family. The film specifically examines how the suburban landscape, with its prefab houses, playgrounds, schools, strip malls, and community activities, continues to shape and define the lives and perceptions of these individuals -- from the father's involvement with a local theatrical troupe to the children's feelings of ennui and sense of removal from the neighbors in their subdivision. Burns offsets the picture's stark themes and undertones, however, with a sharp, wicked, and occasionally satirical sense of humor that never fails to catch the absurdities or ironies of this landscape. Musician Joey Santiago, from the band the Pixies, complements the images with a gritty rock soundtrack that draws out the sense of familial dislocation and desperation. The picture also traces the rise of suburbia historically, and features input by such suburban commentators as Mark Kingwell, from the University of Toronto, and writer James Howard Kunstler, who criticize the initial postwar model for suburban communities and suggest that it may not provide the optimal environment for living and raising a family.

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News & Interviews for Radiant City

Critic Reviews for Radiant City

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (1)

  • The faux-documentary aspect of Radiant City is a huge gamble that doesn't pay off.

    May 31, 2007 | Rating: D+

    Noel Murray

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Suburban sprawl takes a well-deserved hit in Radiant City, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Gary Burns and journalist Jim Brown.

    May 30, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Blending documentary elements and some dramatic material, Radiant City is an acerbic position paper on the cultural damage done by postwar architectural fads.

    May 30, 2007 | Rating: 3/5
  • [An] enlightening and disturbingly funny critique of North American suburban sprawl.

    May 29, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Radiant City is a movie about communities that offer everything prospective citizens might want or need, save this: a human reason to live there.

    March 31, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Although this National Film Board-produced film is promoted as a documentary, it's really a combination of essay and drama about that favourite bugbear, suburbia.

    September 23, 2006 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Radiant City

  • Jul 03, 2012
    Why do they call this a documentary? It is made to look like a documentary but the people involved are all actors? Oops was that a spoiler? Serves you right Brown and Burns!
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2010
    Taking an actual drive through these type of neighborhoods makes me wonder why would people waste $$$ to live in such big houses & why would you want to live that close to your neighbors??? A great film that makes you feel sorry for the people who actually have to live in the burbs.Who knew they had it so rough? Feel sorry for the trees that had to be cut down or the land that had to be bulldozed so rich people could have a place to live or the poor people who were pushed out a neighborhood so people with $$$ could move in, take over & jack up the prices
    Brody M Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2008
    One sided at times, but definitely makes it clear that it is one sided, in a way. It's also a very beautiful looking film, and the shots are composed really well. This of course takes away from the realism, but then again, what documentary is actually "real".......
    Patrick D Super Reviewer

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