Finding Vivian Maier

Critics Consensus

Narratively gripping, visually striking, and ultimately thought-provoking, Finding Vivian Maier shines an overdue spotlight on its subject's long-hidden brilliance.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 99

89%

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User Ratings: 9,022
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Movie Info

Who is Vivian Maier? Now considered one of the 20th century's greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime. Since buying her work by chance at auction, amateur historian John Maloof has crusaded to put this prolific photographer in the history books. Maier's strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her. (c) IFC

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Critic Reviews for Finding Vivian Maier

All Critics (99) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Finding Vivian Maier

  • Mar 12, 2016
    Two stories in one documentary: one is about a mysterious woman who hid world class photographic talent behind menial jobs as either nanny or maid, and the other addresses what happens when a professional graverobber discovers the goods. One story is interesting for it's humanity, the other is interesting for it's lack.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 18, 2015
    Normally it takes a lot for a Documentary to impress me, because I really need to be into the subject matter in order to invest myself in the story. I knew nothing about "Find Vivian Maier" before my viewing of it, and I must say, I was blown away. This film follows a young man who discovers a lost photographic talent in a late Vivian Maier and sets out to find out who she is in order to expose her amazing works to the world. We begin to learn that she was both an incredible and evil woman. This picture is very well put together in ever way. From knowing exactly who to interview, to showing the right amount of material through the editing process, the final outcome of this film is a very in-depth depiction of someone who is no longer alive. It is very rare that a Documentary can pull off a true story as real as this. In the end, there really is not much to complain about here, and it is one of the best Documentaries I have seen. I loved this film!
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2014
    This film dwells a lot on the unknown. Still, you can look for clues, and find your own way through the story, when the film doesn't fill in the gaps. Vivian's photography is easily on a par with all of the most famous photographers, and probably far surpasses their output of memorable images. This could explain both her motive and why she kept the pictures secret. Her motive was that it was what she did and who she was, and she was excellent at it, not just sometimes, but consistently over many thousands of pictures, and she took her own talent very seriously. Actions speak. Secondly, she must have understood, correctly, that the art authorities would dismiss her work, precisely because of its excellence and the fact that she was prolific. A woman, and poor, brusque and unfeminine at that, would not have been stood beside the other greats. And Vivian would never schmooze the modern buyers. She photographed people in everyday life, ugly, beautiful and neither. The collection lacks celebrities. It is not sensationalist, or a freak show. Nor could her single images be held up as rare, or as singular masterpieces - she made a great many, very extraordinary pictures. Too many for the sale rooms. Why would she sour her work with the art world, when she clearly knew her own competence, and her marketing limitations? Even now, they talk about her in guarded, materialistic terms. She preserved her ability and her freedom. It is also unfortunate that Vivian's long line of employers saw her only as a nanny, and did not take her under their wing even when she asked them to. That they did not try much to reach beyond, even though she lived under their own roofs. Her life is a comment on the narrow society, that doesn't bother too far with those it classes as "not one of us". She spoke in a fake French accent. It sounded more like German or possibly Dutch. Perhaps she had a wartime legacy. The film is reminiscent of the British fictional series 'Shooting the Past', about a photographic collection, and its ability to connect people over time and distance. Here, it is a real collection. Vivian's pictures weave a human web. There is a deeply touching moment when a very old woman, embraced by her daughter, sees a photograph in a modern gallery of her late husband, as a young man. Wait for the moments when people see their own lives in the pictures. Note the curator's fine care of the collection. Or, you can just see this film for the pictures, because the pictures alone are worth it.
    . . Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2014
    An absorbing and well edited documentary that unveils the life of this secretive and incredibly talented woman in an attempt to find out who she was, raising in the process inevitable questions about someone's right (or lack thereof) to expose the work of someone who died.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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