Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY on Netflix?
"Springsteen on Broadway" launches globally on Netflix on December 15, 2018, bringing the completely sold out 236-show run on Broadway to audiences everywhere. "Springsteen on Broadway" is a solo acoustic performance written and performed by Tony Award, Academy Award, and 20-time Grammy Award winner Bruce Springsteen. Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography 'Born to Run,' "Springsteen on Broadway" is a unique evening with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and his very personal stories. In addition, it features a special appearance by Patti Scialfa. The evening has received rave reviews in top media here and abroad.
"Springsteen on Broadway" is written by Bruce Springsteen, and directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Thom Zimny ("Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)"). In addition to Zimny, the film is produced by the same team that produced "Springsteen on Broadway," including Springsteen manager Jon Landau, Springsteen tour director George Travis, and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Thom Duffy, Billboard: The Broadway show has been like no other in Springsteen's six-decade career-reflective, elegiac, humorous, angry and always deeply emotional. Those lucky enough to witness one of Springsteen's 236 performances at the 939-capacity Walter Kerr Theatre might well ask if a film could do justice to that experience. Press previews of Springsteen On Broadway confirm the answer is unequivocally yes.
Chris Willman, Variety: Tight and medium shots are pretty much the rule, with director Thom Zimny waiting until the last 10 minutes to move the camera back far enough to let us see the silhouetted audience. (The 5.1 surround sound always lets us know the house is there, though, as an invisible choir of murmurers and chucklers.) The Netflix film, which bypasses theaters to debut on the streaming giant Dec. 16 (the day the Broadway show closes), even dispenses with the traditional opening shot of the artist walking onstage.
Sonia Saraiya, Vanity Fair: It's an exceptional pivot-one that perhaps only a rock star could pull off-from the intimacy of live performance to the mania of global stardom. But Springsteen on Broadway becomes a NETFLIX SPECIAL with deceptive ease, bringing the experience of spending an evening with Springsteen to your living room (or laptop-based home theater).
Will Hermes, Rolling Stone: The heart of Springsteen on Broadway isn't politics, however. It's about family and love, the struggle to escape your roots and own them. Springsteen recites the Lord's Prayer - seared into his memory through reluctant years in Catholic school - and ends the show with his own prayer: "Born to Run." He caps it with the sound of a heartbeat, tapping it out with his hand on the body of his acoustic guitar, until it falls silent. It's a better metaphor for his life's work than anything I could write here.
Lauren Onkey, NPR: It's unlikely that a filmed reproduction of such an intimate experience could capture its intensity, but Zimny has hit the mark through his austere approach, which elegantly preserves the live show's quiet focus. (Albeit with one tonal casualty: Springsteen's show was often hilarious, showing off the comedic timing he's honed over the years. Here, it's the painful stories that hit the hardest.)
Randy Lewis, LA Times: Zimny, Springsteen's collaborator on a number of previous film projects, has done a remarkable job capturing the intimacy, the honesty, the inspiration and the music of "Springsteen on Broadway." His film honors the show's spirit without engaging in any fussy camera work, backstage interviews or other behind-the-scenes material.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire: "Springsteen on Broadway" might be the single best thing that Netflix has ever done. Which isn't to say that it's a better film than "Roma" or "Private Life" - or that it's even a film, at all (it's categorized as a "special") - but that it epitomizes the full potential of a platform so large that it tends to crush whatever it touches.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday: "Springsteen on Broadway" (Columbia) manages remarkable double duty, providing all the audio from the Netflix version of Bruce Springsteen's autobiographical Broadway show, which ends its 236-show run at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Saturday. That means it includes all the stories and introductions to all the songs in the show, as well as the songs themselves. This version creates the opportunity for fans to listen to the entire Netflix version, which debuts on the streaming service Sunday, or, like all albums, pick and choose their favorite moments for repeated listening.
Photo Credit: Rob DeMartin