Cinema Verite 2011

Cinema Verite

Critics Consensus

Cinema Verite is a disappointingly incurious dive into the birth of reality television, but terrific performances and the inherent intrigue behind the making of An American Family keep this drama compelling.

61%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 41

60%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 556

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Movie Info

In the 1970s Bill Loud (Tim Robbins) and his wife, Pat (Diane Lane), allow cameras to film their personal lives for the PBS series "An American Family."

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Cinema Verite

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (16)

  • The film's real fascination is with the documentary's maker, Craig Gilbert, played with wonderful faux innocence by James Gandolfini.

    June 10, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Like a history lesson in the genre that's taken over so much of cable and broadcast network programming. It's also the sort of intelligent drama that has to compete with the cheaper, flashier shows that An American Family eventually spawned.

    June 10, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Cinema Verite is smart and often moving, but unsatisfying overall. It compresses seven months of shooting, 3,000 hours of raw footage, and 12 hours' worth of televised story into a little over 90 minutes, losing complexity along the way.

    June 10, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Just as 12 hours probably wasn't enough time to establish the Louds as real people, not soap opera stick figures, two hours isn't quite enough to explain exactly what went wrong with An American Family, either.

    June 10, 2020 | Full Review…
  • They'd found good matches for the original participants, and there was a certain fascination in watching the segues between documentary artifice and artificial documentary. But the script was so clunky it virtually came with visible bullet points.

    June 10, 2020 | Full Review…
  • An informative but somewhat plodding re-creation of the 1970s PBS special, An American Family. James Gandolfini steals the show as the producer who persuades the naive parents to invite cameras into their soon-to-be shattered house.

    June 10, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cinema Verite

  • Nov 05, 2014
    Interesting, but I don't know the original show this was based on, so perhaps I would rate it higher if I did. Even without knowing, it was pretty good. Very authentic 60's/70's look to the movie and cast are all good.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2013
    Inspired by the work of Margaret Mead, documentary filmmaker Craig Gilbert(James Gandolfini) has an idea for a teleivsion series to capture an average American family going about their everyday lives on film, worried as he is about any future cultural impact the Partridge Family might have. He is introduced to Pat Loud(Diane Lane, apparently stuck in 1973) through a mutual friend. She agrees to participate, even with the logistical nightmare of her husband Bill's(Tim Robbins) frequent business trips. The filming starts with her visiting their son Lance(Thomas Dekker) at some place called the Chelsea Hotel in New York. Like their previous "American Splendor," Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini take another pointed look at the thin line between fact and fiction with "Cinema Verite," grounded by a very strong performance from Diane Lane. Normally, I would prefer the real footage(which I have never seen) but aside from making me feel uneasy, I would rather go with this dramatizaion since the viewer can see how intrusive the cameras were into the Loud family household. As seen here, at the time of the filming, it did not change their lives that much, only after, of which even Gilbert was not immune. At least, unlike those who came later, they had no idea what was going to happen and I wonder if somebody was wondering at the time if people actually watched public television.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • May 10, 2012
    An uneven but interesting film from HBO about the behind-the-scenes making of the first family reality TV show. The acting from all is strong, especially Tim Robbins, but the writing sometimes lets them down, with some stilted dialogue. I did like the film's use of archival footage, which was often more compelling, but felt its integration was inconsistent. What really made the film work, however, was the authentic dynamics between those involved, and the especially thought provoking end of the film, exploring the show's aftermath. 3/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2012
    An American Family was television's first reality show and Cinema Verite captures the making of the groundbreaking PBS TV documentary with this very well acted drama. While the story has some bumpy moments as it tries to cram in a complicated tale into 90 minutes the film serves as an excellent primer for the real thing. So, if you have 12 hours take a look at the real thing which detailed the break up of an upper middle class American family while opening up questions about the intrusion of cameras into American lives.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer

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