Man on Wire 2008

Critics score:
100 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Robert Zemeckis is developing a feature film based on Petit's life and high crimes. Good luck to all concerned, but I can't see how a fictionalized treatment could exceed the achievement of director James Marsh's documentary, which unfolds like a dream. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: It all makes for an absorbing, mischievously amusing yarn, whose climax unfolds with unexpected emotional force. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: James Marsh's rollicking documentary Man on Wire asks not 'Why?' but 'How the hell?' Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: In archival photos Petit seems to float between the towers, a tiny black figure against a vivid blue sky; the images are all the more poignant for the unstated fact that Petit is still around when the buildings aren't. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Part of what makes Man on Wire so enthralling, and so entertaining, is the filmmaker's skill in laying out the illegal caper's logistics, mainly through interviews with Philippe and his support team. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: Man on Wire should be watched on the biggest screen possible; it's an utterly thrilling exploration of one man's mad dream. Read more

Jonathan F. Richards, In this exhilarating, palm-moistening documentary by British filmmaker James Marsh (Wisconsin Death Trip), the twin towers are back to celebrate one of their finest moments. Read more

Noel Murray, AV Club: It's a story worth telling, yes -- but after 90 minutes, it's hard not to wonder if the storyteller can talk about anything else. Read more

Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic: It is one of the most suspenseful, white-knuckled films of the year. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: A documentary about a towering act of daring proves a spine-tingling memorial to recklessness as art. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: They say that seeing is believing, but Man on Wire will make you doubt what your eyes are telling you -- it really will -- as you shake your head in amazement and awe. Read more

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle: Though we know how it ends, it unfolds with suspense. And though it lacks any discussion of the towers' destruction, it succeeds as a tribute to their birth. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: By any rational gauge, Petit's WTC obsession was flat-out crazy, but Marsh takes a limpid, nonjudgmental view of it all. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: A gift of a documentary. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Astonishing. Daring. Mind-boggling. Visually stunning. A true heart-stopper. And, oh yeah, the movie's pretty good, too. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: [A] breathtaking documentary about that mad-genius coup achieved over three decades ago. Read more

Kamal Al-Solaylee, Globe and Mail: [Director] Marsh creates a transfixing documentary feature that doubles as a celebration of one man and an elegy to two buildings that are no more. Read more

Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly: Much of Marsh's focus is on the practical details and build up of the caper, but the last third stretches out for poetic resonance. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: The film's soaring climax becomes surprisingly emotional thanks to testimony from those lucky enough to have witnessed it. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: Director James Marsh's hypnotic movie documents French wire walker Philippe Petit's unauthorized, 45-minute balancing act 110 stories above New York in August 1974. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: [An] engrossing and exhilarating documentary Man on Wire, which uses vintage footage, interviews and re-creations. Read more

Sara Vilkomerson, New York Observer: As the film traces how he plotted his Word Trade Center walk, it starts to feel almost like a heist movie, as Mr. Petit and his cronies map out each minute detail over the course of month. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: James Marsh tells Petit's story, the most inspiring 'heist' in modern history, a Frenchman's stroll between two 110 story buildings in lower Manhattan. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: The word 'documentary' doesn't begin to do justice to [director] Marsh's achievement. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: [A] heart-stopping, knee-buckling and transcendent account. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: A fascinating time capsule: a combination of talking-head interviews, actual footage, and re-creations that evokes a kinder, gentler world and provides insight into one of the most audacious stunts of the 20th century. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Constructed like a first-rate thriller. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, Delightful and finally transcendent documentary. Read more

Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle: Man on Wire, the delightful documentary about French tightrope walker Philippe Petit's incroyable early-morning trip between the World Trade Center towers in 1974, is an interesting film to watch from the front row. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Without bombast or pathos -- as gracefully as a tightrope walker -- Man on Wire brings back a time when the towers were still symbols of aspiration and possibility. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: There's nothing on movie screens now that can compare with the footage of Petit's performance. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The erasure of the towers adds poignance and irony to a documented event that is inherently thrilling and beautiful. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: This film is a celebration of human achievement; it soars with the promise that we are shackled to the ground only by lack of imagination and will. Read more

Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out: Read more

David Fear, Time Out: Armed with the standard operating tools of documentary filmmaking, James Marsh leads audiences through Petit & Co.'s preparation and execution of this incredible feat of performance art. Read more

Trevor Johnston, Time Out: A generous, visionary gesture supplanting the communal memory of the site's unspeakable horrors with an image of human achievement that's head-spinning, heart-leaping in its absurd purity. Read more

Christopher Orr, The New Republic: It's a rare tale of dangerous obsession rapturously fulfilled, a reminder that even the most quixotic of undertakings can knock over a windmill now and then. Read more

Robert Koehler, Variety: James Marsh's Man on Wire erupts onscreen as one of the most wildly entertaining docs of recent years. Read more

Aaron Hillis, Village Voice: Exhilarating... a crowd-pleaser in such witty, poetic ways that even an art-house curmudgeon couldn't deny its tidy vigor. Read more