Critic Reviews



Based on 11 critic reviews provided by
Driven by both empathy and a passion for justice, “How to Survive a Plague” director David France’s stellar documentary charts an investigation into the still-unsolved death of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson, along the way illuminating the persistent discrimination that exists today, and the bonds of community designed to counter it.
Appears at first to take a more macro perspective on gay rights. But it tells a big story indeed.
The film is vital for both its history and its currency. Above all, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson works powerfully as a rallying cry for tolerance, love and understanding.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson is particularly suspenseful for the way it recollects the past through the prism of a murder mystery, brilliantly fusing an archival history with the elements of a detective story.
Pointedly recounting the history of the LGBT movement in New York, director David France shines a light on how, even within that community, transgender people have been treated like second-class citizens.
While Cruz wins us over with her emotionally charged amateur sleuthing, the weight of a constant struggle to not just gain acceptance, but survive fighting for it, gives France’s documentary a stirring poignancy.
Still, even if The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson doesn’t wholly deliver on its premise, France does a remarkable job of finding the continuity between New York in the ’70s, ’90s, and now.
While the sense of closure that the film seeks to provide perhaps inevitably remains elusive, it covers another vital chapter in queer history, sadly still relevant in the ongoing frequency of violence against trans women.
Slant Magazine
It brims with empathy and righteous outrage at the treatment of trans people, but with only a vague organizational structure, it ultimately feels scattershot, passionately covering a number of important issues without quite unifying them into a coherent whole.
There are several strong stories in The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, a documentary that, in trying to tell them all, takes on too much.

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