All Critics (115) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (112) | Rotten (2)
Marsh … masterfully spins a harrowing tale of human arrogance that eventually gives way to cruelty bordering on the pathological.
Nim is as unforgettable as the treatment of him is unspeakable.
Like the experiment itself, “Project Nim” morphs from something inspiring and often humorous to a pointed and disturbing portrait of arrogance run amok. Greed and glory end up overriding decency and altruism, and it’s heartbreaking to watch.
What makes this film especially engrossing is that what happened between that chimp and the humans with whom he spent his life in intimate contact turns out to be only half the story that Marsh, who directed the electrifying “Man on Wire,” has to tell.
Los Angeles Times
Marsh tells this story clearly and sympathetically, and he has the backlog of film and the witnesses to do so.
At times hilarious but ultimately heartbreaking, “Project Nim” is a great chronicle of the 1970s and all the nutty ideas that implies; academia in particular comes in for a hard reckoning.
…succeeds as theater, as entertainment, but it doesn’t really attempt what Terrace tried, in his admittedly morally clumsy way. What is the light in those feral eyes and what does it mean? Can we ever hope to know?
The film teases us with a paradox: arguably Nim’s keepers were wrong to try to endow their protege with human attributes, but can we empathise with his suffering without making the same mistake?
Funny at times, but also deeply sad, it’s a truly fascinating and well made documentary.
At the Movies (Australia)
Marsh’s film is as much a study of how we behave as a species as it is of what happens to Nim. And we don’t come off particularly well.
Project Nim tells a sweet, strange and sad story of an incredible creature that will touch even the hardest of hearts.
A bizarre, captivating and somewhat sad new documentary.
Driven by James Marsh’s measured storytelling style, this ethically unsettling and emotionally compelling documentary is the equal of any cinematic epic.
A thought-proving and entirely moving portrait of human arrogance — in general and with some very, very specific examples.
Marsh knows this material is explosive, so he presents it simply and with little sentiment (against all odds, “Nim” is frequently very funny).
For a movie about an ape, it sheds an interesting light on humanity. Animals may be wild, but only humans are cruel.
Project Nim doesn’t try to reconcile its different understandings of Nim — as an experiment, a child, a projection of various selves, and a complex, independent being.
Marsh is too content framing the entire film around the narrative spun by its subjects, rather than stamping his own authorship on the film, and as a result it lacks the power and depth of his previous work.
After watching this eye-opening documentary, one almost hopes for a rebellion of the chimpanzees like the one seen in the latest installment in the Planet of the Apes franchise.
About as far as you can get from cinéma vérité in its artful combination of archive material, existing documentary footage, newly filmed interviews and dramatic reconstruction, to trace Nim’s strange progress.
Despite some heartbreak in the last half, this film brims with humanity and some priceless humour, too.
This many-faceted time capsule sheds little light, but buried inside it are vexing questions and the still-beating heart of a special creature.
Marsh, who made the multi-awarded Man on a Wire, takes no sides but lets the humans speak for themselves, rum lot that they are.
More Critic Reviews