Val

2021, Documentary/Biography, 1h 49m

64 Reviews Fewer than 50 Verified Ratings

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critics consensus

An absorbingly reflective documentary that benefits from its subject's self-chronicling, Val offers an intimate look at a unique life and career. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

For over 40 years Val Kilmer, one of Hollywood's most mercurial and/or misunderstood actors has been documenting his own life and craft through film and video. He has amassed thousands of hours of footage, from 16mm home movies made with his brothers, to time spent in iconic roles for blockbuster movies like Top Gun, The Doors, Tombstone, and Batman Forever. This raw, wildly original and unflinching documentary reveals a life lived to extremes and a heart-filled, sometimes hilarious look at what it means to be an artist and a complex man.

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Critic Reviews for Val

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (5)

  • The actor Val Kilmer opens his massive home video archive to documentary filmmakers Ting Poo and Leo Scott to help sort through the captivating highs and lows of his career.

    July 30, 2021 | Full Review…
  • Attuned to what's raw and heartfelt, "Val" reveals a Kilmer who has managed to process his identity/career not as a be-careful-what-you-wish-for story so much as a be-grateful-for-what-one-has experience.

    July 30, 2021 | Full Review…
  • There's so much wishy washy talk about where the actor ends and the character begins, but if "Val" convinces us that Kilmer was able to blur that line... the film only shines flashes of light on who the actor is, and what drew him to the characters.

    July 30, 2021 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • It offers Kilmer a showcase that he has been denied, not only by the ravages of cancer but, long before, by the troubled course of his career and the inherent obstacles of Hollywood filmmaking.

    July 29, 2021 | Full Review…
  • If you love movies and Val Kilmer, you will dig it. I ultimately found it really moving and really sad.

    July 27, 2021 | Full Review…
  • It often plays like an exercise in image management, treading lightly on explosive autobiographical terrain from his adult life, but going deep on family trauma (particularly the childhood death of his brother Wesley) and tales out-of-school.

    July 26, 2021 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The actor Val Kilmer opens his massive home video archive to documentary filmmakers Ting Poo and Leo Scott to help sort through the captivating highs and lows of his career.

    July 30, 2021 | Full Review…
  • Attuned to what's raw and heartfelt, "Val" reveals a Kilmer who has managed to process his identity/career not as a be-careful-what-you-wish-for story so much as a be-grateful-for-what-one-has experience.

    July 30, 2021 | Full Review…
  • There's so much wishy washy talk about where the actor ends and the character begins, but if "Val" convinces us that Kilmer was able to blur that line... the film only shines flashes of light on who the actor is, and what drew him to the characters.

    July 30, 2021 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • It offers Kilmer a showcase that he has been denied, not only by the ravages of cancer but, long before, by the troubled course of his career and the inherent obstacles of Hollywood filmmaking.

    July 29, 2021 | Full Review…
  • "Val" renders you empathetic toward a man who "had it all" one minute and lost it all the next.

    August 1, 2021 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • A genuinely moving portrait of an actor that neither the industry nor audiences appreciated enough when they had the chance.

    July 31, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Val

  • 4d ago
    Watching the documentary Val, comprised from thousands of hours of home videos shot by actor Val Kilmer over the course of 30 years, may make you realize just how little you know about the actor. His reputation is that he's difficult to work with, conceited, and Method to the point of losing himself in roles and pushing his co-stars to the brink of sanity. Coming from his won words, narrated by his son, naturally allows the most empathetic read of the man and his rationale for his personal and professional decisions. I never knew about his family life, losing his teenage brother who was an inspiration and early collaborator. I never knew Kilmer wrote his own plays, including a student production at Juliard that broke new ground. I never even knew he was an early adopter of technology and had a warehouse filled with his self-documentation (Kilmer is even credited with the doc's cinematography). You get the sense of a wounded and restless soul, a handsome movie star who so rarely found a film role that allowed him to feel like an artist in his element. Kilmer can be one of his generation's greatest actors, as evidenced in classics like Heat and Tombstone and as Jim Morrison in The Doors, still one of the greatest acting performances I've ever watched. Kilmer languished through plenty of studio dreck as well. His time as Batman is marked by dejection and loneliness, stuck playing the straight man in a movie of oddballs and trapped in a suit of limited mobility and an inability to hear (actors and crew started avoiding interacting him in the Bat suit because he couldn't respond). Strewn throughout the movie is contemporary footage of Kilmer after beating throat cancer, though the subsequent surgeries have left his speech haggard. Listening to the labored and tortured sound of his voice is a direct jab to your sympathy. Given that this is produced by Kilmer from his own archives, and narrated by his son, the documentary isn't as critical as it could have been. I wish the movie provided more self-analysis for Kilmer, especially on some of his rockier relationships and onset disruptions, like for the notorious Island of Doctor Moreau. I don't think you can still fall back on his deceased brother for decades of behavior. There's a limit to the level of insight because it feels a bit like Kilmer managing his reputation and legacy within the industry. Still, for nearly two hours, Val can be a poignant and illuminating expose of an actor with a reputation for equal parts trouble and brilliance. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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