SXSW Film Review: Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

Doc on longtime life coach surprisingly straight forward

Tony Robbins curses like a construction worker caught in traffic. Tony Robbins calls men out for being weaklings. Tony Robbins holds damaged people (male and female) in his arms and offers comfort. Tony Robbins is the dictionary definition of charisma.

Which all adds up to the perfect documentary subject. Joe Berlinger, who's made gritty docs Brother's Keeper and Paradise Lost, recognized that potential and poured it into Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, which, in a surprising twist, casts an admiring gaze on the longtime self-help coach. The film focuses on Robbins' grueling six-day “Date With Destiny” seminar that set back attendees almost $5,000 each. The group-healing exercise harks back to Werner Erhard's "est" training from the Seventies, with tough love mixed in with lots of listening and hand clapping. Berlinger gives us just enough of Robbins' personal story: a rough childhood, his discovery by a high school speech teacher, and his current palatial Florida home. Robbins comes across as both driven and caring, but the skeptics will still find much to question, and that's part of the film's strength. In the end, it's the seminar participants' stories that make this a compelling film that should raise healthy discussions when it airs on Netflix in July.


Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

Headliners, World Premiere
Thursday, March 17, 11:30am, Marchesa
Saturday, March 19, 1:15pm, Stateside

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Passion Project
Passion Project
Jim Cummings is supercharging self-distribution with Thunder Road

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 12, 2018

Shirley Manson and Lauren Mayberry Will Keynote SXSW
Shirley Manson and Lauren Mayberry Will Keynote SXSW
Scottish singers among first wave of speakers for SXSW 2019

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 10, 2018

More by Joe O'Connell
UT Professor on the Making of Texas Film Epic <i>Giant</i>
UT Professor on the Making of Texas Film Epic Giant
Don Graham's Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film

April 13, 2018

SXSW Film Review: <i>If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd</I>
Review: If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd
The highs and lows of one of the most iconic Southern rock bands

March 14, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW 2016, SXSW Film 2016, SXSW, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle