51 Birch Street

Critics Consensus

A filmmaker's investigation of his parents' marriage renders an ordinary subject surprisingly powerful.



Total Count: 36


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,250
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Movie Info

Documentary filmmaker Doug Block had every reason to believe his parents' 54-year marriage was a good one. But when his mother dies unexpectedly and his father swiftly marries his former secretary, he discovers two parents who are far more complex and troubled than he ever imagined.

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Critic Reviews for 51 Birch Street

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (18)

  • Unfolds like an epistolary psychological mystery. Little about or in this movie is as simple as it seems.

    May 10, 2007 | Full Review…
  • It gradually turns into a vivid demonstration that truth can be stronger than fiction, and that compromise is necessary in any lasting relationship.

    Jan 12, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • The film grows in power as it goes, finding ever more universal levels of feeling.

    Nov 24, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Through haunting home movies, Mina's diaries and interviews with Mike, a raw, riveting portrait emerges of what a child sees in his parents' relationship and what lies beneath.

    Nov 13, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • A resounding success because it touches on things every child has wondered about on the road to adulthood.

    Nov 3, 2006 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Ultimately, the film reveals more about Block than about his private, remote mother and father.

    Nov 3, 2006 | Rating: C-

    Tasha Robinson

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for 51 Birch Street

  • May 04, 2008
    Interesting because it's so personal. The director obviously wanted to make a documentary about his family but found out more than he was ready for.
    Sunil J Super Reviewer
  • May 01, 2008
    When Doug Block's mother suddenly dies, his father quickly marries his former secretary. Is the father a heartless schmuck or is he just a poor man who's been caged in a loveless marriage for to long?
    The M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2007
    [font=Century Gothic]With "51 Birch Street," filmmaker Doug Block has made a documentary about his parents, Mike and Mina, who were married for more than fifty years. After Mina's death, Doug tries to form a connection to his emotionally distant father. Three months later, to the shock of Doug and his sisters, Mike marries his former secretary and announces plans to sell the family home in Port Washington, Long Island, intending to move to Florida.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"51 Birch Street" is an extremely personal film that I think wants to have something profound to say about marriage but does not escape the pull of the central story.(Doug also talks about his own marriage but that is about it.) I would not want to know the details of my parents' marriage, much less somebody else's, even if it did make them sound more interesting. In the end, I understand even less why somebody would ever want to get married. [/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2007
    insightful docu into the lives of one family. keeps you entertained throughout. i have to admit i fell asleep for ten minutes but that was only down to being totally knackered. pissed off i missed those 10. really makes you think about your own family and what secrets the other members could hide. it shows you how you sometimes spend your life with someone and still never really know them. like the filmer in the flick i agree and think with parents ignorance is bliss and it's better to not know as children if there has been a shady past, but is that being apathetic?
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer

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