Box art for Cinema Verite

Cinema Verite

  • Rated TV14


Decades before we had reality television, there was the Loud family. From HBO Films comes this intriguing true story of this Santa Barbara family who were catapulted to notoriety in the early 1970s in the groundbreaking PBS series An American Family.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 15
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Smart biopic raises worthy questions about reality TV.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this made-for-television movie targeted at adults has unbleeped swearing (in the form of "bulls--t" and "a--hole), although characters don't use strong language constantly. Many scenes involve alcohol, too, and some characters smoke cigarettes. Sexual content isn't overt and is limited to innuendo, with scenes alluding to extramarital affairs and homosexuality.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how documentaries and reality TV shows are conceived and produced. Is there such a thing as cinema verite (literally, "the cinema of truth")? How "real" is reality television? Is real life riveting enough, or do producers push cameras and subjects to produce more drama for better ratings?
  • Should filmmakers have an ethical responsibility to their subjects? Can -- and should -- a film crew remain objective while living and working with a family and getting to know them? Is true objectivity possible?
  • To what extent are the subjects of documentaries and reality TV shows being manipulated by filmmakers and producers? Who's using who? How much control do the subjects of these programs have over how they're portrayed? Should they have more or less control?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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  • Audience


Audience Reviews

4 stars

Cinema Verite reveals the birth of reality TV, reveals all what is wrong with it and then shows the unfashionable happy ending. Cinema Verite could of had a cinema release, I think it was good enough. The cast all do a fine job and I thought the mix of recreation and real footage was the best I've seen from the genres. Diane Lane and Tim Robbins a great in their roles but it's James Gandolfini who really steals the show, playing lovable and dastardly equally well.

- SirPant, Friday, July 13, 2012

4 stars

The story of the dirtbag producer who takes advantage of the sensibilities of people to make a fast buck is a commonplace story, but when its a true story, and one about the first reality show family you sit up and pay attention. The original process of reality television comes to life in this beautifully wrought film, using some of the original footage of the show and interviews the family went on to air their grievances. An American Family was a 10 hour special on PBS and was the first time a regular family was shown in the same introspective capacity as the natives of National Geographic. The family is a dippy liberal set from California, the mother a self aware but open individual who is described as too old for woman's lib but too young to be a frumpy housewife. She is portrayed by Diane Lane, and shown as a mother who is torn between her children, her philandering husband, and pleasing Craig Gilbert (Gandolfini) by giving him the most naked of footage of her family but still retaining a realistic view that doesn't degrade them in any way. She is naive to the process of film editing and the manipulative way Craig is twisting her emotions so she'll turn on her husband and give a performance that will make good television. Her children have the typical goals of seventies teens, including forming a popular rock band and seeing the world. Kudos go to Thomas Dekker who plays the flamboyantly gay son of the Louds who lives in New York and frequently feels embroiled in the judgment of the public but never of his family. They accept him for who he is, while his mother also doesn't want to completely give up her son for who he really is for the public eye to watch over. Though much of the conflict is typical of these kind of stars in their eyes protagonists, it's the family itself and Lane's hinging performance that make this so encapsulating. The ending is a little anti-climactic, but perhaps that's just because there just wasn't enough story to tell. Though it covers the backlash against the Loud family it still could have gone farther. For such a pointed story, Lane really brought everything upon herself to make this film the gem that it is.

- FrizzDrop, Sunday, January 22, 2012

3 stars

A decent film that portrays the controversial behind-the-scenes of the first reality show on American television, a risky format that would become what now is highly popular in the whole world. The highlights include the accurate '70s visuals and the solid performances.

- blacksheepboy, Saturday, September 3, 2011