(2012)

Critic Reviews

69

Metascore

Based on 10 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
Laudatory but never simplistic, Bill W. is a thoroughly engrossing portrait of Wilson, his times and the visionary fellowship that is his legacy.
80
Village Voice
A loving, exhaustive, warts-and-all look at the man who spent years battling his own alcoholism before a spiritual experience in the hospital set him on the course to help others.
80
Showing deep appreciation for Wilson's influence, as well as for the obscurity in which he spent his career in the spiritual-rescue business, the helmers employ a motherlode of photographs, diary entries, correspondence and recorded speeches to tell a sensational story that many will think they know, but don't.
80
As the filmmakers trace the troubles of his later life -- psychological, financial, marital -- they flesh out a portrait of a reluctant guru whose human imperfections make him all the more inspiring.
75
Alcoholics Anonymous founder William G. Wilson, known mostly as Bill W. before his death in 1971, was played by James Woods in a fine 1989 made-for-TV biopic. But the drama didn't have room for some of the darker corners of Wilson's life, fascinatingly explored in Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino's documentary.
75
A key part of AA was anonymity: "Who you see here, what you say here, let it stay here." Bill Wilson himself was not anonymous - that horse was already out of the barn - and his fame was such that Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential men of the century. Told he should be on a postage stamp, he said: "They'd have to show the back of my head."
75
Bill W., an admirable, illuminating film about the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, is pretty much like the man himself: solid, sometimes flawed and seriously unflashy.
75
All you needed was to accept your imperfection and reach out to others who'd done the same. Surely the man who said that must be perfect.
70
The New York Times
Names and events are ticked off in rapid succession, and the big, and fascinating, question of what role spirituality played receives cautious attention at best. Nonetheless, Bill W. offers a trove of information for non-A.A. members through the life of a man whose dedication has helped others understand their own.
30
Despite the filmmakers' efforts to humanize Wilson, however, Bill W. still dabbles in hagiography, valorizing the man while also painting him as a reluctant hero.

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