The Arbor
The Arbor (2011)

Instead if making a conventional documentary or adapting Dunbar's play The Arbor for the screen, director Clio Barnard has crafted a truly unique work that transcends genre and defies categorization. Following two years conducting audio… More

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Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: April 27, 2011
DVD Release Date: September 6, 2011
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Critic Score: 96% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Smart and inventive, The Arbor offers some intensely memorable twists on tired documentary tropes.

Eric Kohn

Documentaries often toy with the conventions of non-fiction storytelling to the detriment of their content, but Clio Barnard's innovative The Arbor provides a welcome exception to the norm.

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Loren King
Boston Globe

[An] exquisitely crafted docudrama.

Roe McDermott
Hot Press

Though The Arbor is hard to watch, it's even harder to define, but it's clear that this is Andrea, this is England, and this is extraordinary.

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Ronnie Scheib

Numerous celluloid experiments have fudged reality and fiction lately, but few are as formally inventive or socially revelatory as The Arbor.

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Anthony Lane
New Yorker

Barnard's boldest move is to unveil the irresponsible chaos of the playwright's private life, and to make us wonder if the art was worth the suffering, after all.

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Martin Tsai
Critic's Notebook

Ms. Barnard illustrates in heartbreaking fashion how the cycle of familial neglect, low self-esteem and self destruction completely ruined lives that were once so full of promise.

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Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post

For the morbidly curious, it's mesmerizing. But it's also a singularly watchable story for the strange, and strangely fitting, way in which it's told.

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Scott Tobias
AV Club

Brings the Dunbar story to life through a technique known as "verbatim theater," in which actors lip-synch testimony from the real people they're portraying.

Nicolas Rapold
Film Comment Magazine

What emerges is a curious mix of avant-garde technique and social-realist case study, equally indebted to Barnard's art-world-video background and Dunbar's own close-to-the-bone writing.

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More reviews for The Arbor

Flixster Audience Score: 75% Flixster User Reviews
Gordon Anderson
Interesting if gruelling study of how 'grim up north' things can get. Novel use of actors miming spoken testimonies from the real people involved.… More
John Ballantine
The Arbor may suffer a bit from following an uncomfortable line between documentary and drama but it is for the most part effective. We have some actual people… More
Daniel Mumby
In an age where demographics and target audiences are everything, The Arbor is a film which genuinely defies genre. Nestling somewhere between a documentary and… More
Daniel Parsons
Extraordinary. Landmark filmmaking. Review soon.
Walter M.
I'll bet you've never seen a documentary quite like "The Arbor." In this movie, ostensibly about the late playwright Andrea Dunbar, it has… More
Lesley N
Sort of documentary with lip-syncing actors over real voices, scenes played out on a council estate and news clips about the life and times of Andrea Dunbar, a… More