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

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