Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017)

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Across more than 50 years of essays, novels, screenplays, and criticism, Joan Didion has been our premier chronicler of the ebb and flow of America's cultural and political tides with observations on her personal - and our own - upheavals, downturns, life changes, and states of mind. In the intimate, extraordinary documentary JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD, actor and director Griffin Dunne unearths a treasure trove of archival footage and talks at length to his "Aunt Joan" about the eras she covered and the eventful life she's lived, including partying with Janis Joplin in a house full of L.A. rockers; hanging in a recording studio with Jim Morrison; and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson's women for a magazine story. Didion guides us through the sleek literati scene of New York in the 1950s and early '60s, when she wrote for Vogue; her return to her home state of California for two turbulent decades; the writing of her seminal books, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Play It as It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, and The White Album; her film scripts, including The Panic in Needle Park; her view of 1980s and '90s political personalities; and the meeting of minds that was her long marriage to writer John Gregory Dunne. She reflects on writing about her reckoning with grief after Dunne's death, in The Year of Magical Thinking (winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction), and the death of their daughter Quintana Roo, in Blue Nights. With commentary from friends and collaborators including Vanessa Redgrave, Harrison Ford, Anna Wintour, David Hare, Calvin Trillin, Hilton Als, and Susanna Moore, the most crucial voice belongs to Didion, one of the most influential American writers alive today.

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Critic Reviews for Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (12)

The Center Will Not Hold is instead a celebration of the thing that existed far before the internet came along: Joan, the person.

October 30, 2017 | Full Review…

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold is sometimes beautiful, mostly workmanlike. As a document of the very old recounting her dreams at breakfast, it's a bit of a marvel.

October 27, 2017 | Full Review…

A fond and appreciative portrait of one of American journalism's superstars.

October 27, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Dunne seems to have an intuition about how far he can push his aunt on any given subject, and a natural protectiveness around her legacy.

October 26, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Access is almost everything for a documentary filmmaker, and the entree Griffin Dunne had to his celebrated subject makes all the difference in "Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold."

October 26, 2017 | Full Review…

This is an intensive appreciation of perhaps the greatest living American essayist, and one of the best ever. It plays like a finely tuned authorized biography.

October 26, 2017 | Full Review…

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