Theo Who Lived (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Theo Who Lived (2016)

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In the late fall of 2012, Theo Padnos, a struggling American journalist, slipped into Syria to report on the country's civil war and was promptly kidnapped by Al Qaeda's branch in Syria. Because he spoke fluent Arabic, his captors suspected he worked for the CIA and, for months, brutally tortured him during interrogation sessions. But his fluency, coupled with his remarkable personal expansiveness, also led to an extraordinary engagement with, and understanding of, his captors. By the time of his release, twenty-two months later, he had become a confidante of al-Qaeda's top commander in Syria. In THEO WHO LIVED, Padnos returns to the Middle East and retraces the physical and emotional steps of his harrowing journey, performing his memories, and enacting the fantasy world he created as means of mental escape. A gripping narrative that includes betrayal among the imprisoned, unlikely friendships, and thwarted escapes, THEO WHO LIVED is an intimate portrait of personal resilience, and grace in the face of hate.

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Critic Reviews for Theo Who Lived

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5)

Basically we have an 86-minute documentary that's virtually a monologue by Padnos of his experiences.

December 15, 2016 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Though no apologist for the Al Qaeda faction that kidnapped him in Syria in 2012, Padnos's rueful and sympathetic storytelling exhibits the kind of cultural understanding that drew him to the region in the first place.

November 4, 2016 | Full Review…

Schisgall's interviews with her enrich the portrait of Padnos, but it's the journo's open gaze and natural inquisitiveness, his refusal to merely demonize his abusers, that give the film its discomforting power.

October 21, 2016 | Full Review…

This is a potent, vital film.

October 6, 2016 | Full Review…

This film is valuable on account of its singular vantage point, and not just because of the firsthand description of the jihadist group's brutality, which is unsurprising.

October 5, 2016 | Full Review…

[Theo] Padnos is sometimes calm and philosophical, sometimes impassioned and enraged.

August 21, 2017 | Full Review…

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