Bright Leaves


Bright Leaves (2004)


Critic Consensus: A rich, eccentric documentary about both filmmaking and the tobacco industry.


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Movie Info

American filmmaker Ross McElwee travels to his home state of North Carolina for the humorous documentary Bright Leaves. In his trademarked rambling style, McElwee lightly questions his family's role in the tobacco industry. Following the Civil War, his great-grandfather John McElwee had a hand in creating the tobacco company Bull Durham, but lost his fortune to business partner Washington Duke in a lawsuit. In order to find out if his grandfather inspired Gary Cooper's character in the 1950 film Bright Leaf, McElwee travels around the tobacco-rich state to places like the Duke mansion, the Double Take Film Festival, and the annual crowning of Miss Tobacco. The documentary includes commentary from film star Patricia Neal and film historian Vlada Petric, along with personal stories about the pleasures and pains of smoking. Bright Leaves was shown at the2003 Cannes Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for Bright Leaves

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (24)

Bright Leaves is not the kind of film that would use in its anti-smoking campaign.

Apr 28, 2005 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

A gently provocative film diary about tobacco and its mixed legacy.

Feb 11, 2005 | Rating: 3/4

McElwee's best film since Sherman's March.

Dec 3, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Bright Leaves is a beguiling film. Watching it is like spending time with an old, somewhat chatty but endearing friend.

Dec 3, 2004 | Rating: 3/4

It's a meandering visit by a curious man with a quiet sense of humor.

Dec 3, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The mysteries McElwee sets out to solve aren't very involving, and his meandering style, while charming first and literate, becomes repetitive and yes, even a little dull.

Nov 30, 2004

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