Critic Reviews



Based on 10 critic reviews provided by
The New York Times
Because this is also a document of an actress actually at work, much of the movie's pleasure comes from watching another brilliant performance take shape as Ms. Streep tries out different line readings, gestures and poses in her search for Mother Courage.
Intriguing and educational. For partisans of Bertolt Brecht, it's mandatory.
What is the value of art in times of strife? Should people be sitting in the theater or rioting in the streets? Walter's film reminds us that once there was a man whose work made no distinction between the two.
What emerges from Walter's docu is not a sense of failure, but a recognition that the play's the thing, enriched by every flawed performance, perfection almost irrelevant to its cry of anguish.
Engrossing and timely, this crackles with ideas about art, politics, religion, and the terrible costs of war.
New York Magazine (Vulture)
As a onetime dramaturg and Brechtian, I enjoyed the chin-wags and the glimpses of Streep in rehearsal--especially her quivering admission that she can't bear the thought of anyone seeing her process.
Though Theater Of War is informative--both about Brecht and about the effort it takes to mount a big New York production--Walter overreaches in trying to connect Brecht's anti-war sentiment with contemporary protest movements, and doesn't do more than dabble with the themes of truth and representation in documentary filmmaking.
All of this makes an interesting, if not gripping, film about the play, the playwright and the lead-up work to a stage production. It also leaves me wanting a great deal more.
Passionate and ambitious, John Walter's chronicle of a Public Theater production is too scattered for broad appeal. But those who connect with his themes will find themselves quickly drawn in.
Walter's doc can't decide whether it wants to be about Brecht, Streep, or Mother Courage herself.

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