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Left On Purpose

HD   Unrated Closed Captioning

Justin Schein

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About the Movie

Midway through the filming of a documentary about his life as an anti war activist, Mayer Vishner declares that his time has passed and that his last political act will be to commit suicide— and he wants it all on camera. Now the director must decide whether to turn off his camera or use it to keep his friend alive. Left on Purpose is an award winning feature length documentary that confronts the growing issues of aging, isolation and end of life choices through an intense character driven story of the relationship between filmmaker and subject. With humor and heart it provides a rare cinematic look at what it means to be a friend to someone in pain.


Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 8
  • Fresh: 7
  • Rotten: 1
  • Average Rating: 6.8/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: What makes the film... as ironically entertaining as it is tragic is its charismatic subject, who is articulate and fascinating even while spiraling downward emotionally. – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter, Jun 14, 2016

Fresh: An anguished and compassionate chronicle ... – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice, Feb 7, 2017

Fresh: The ending will gut you, but there are laughs along the way. – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice, Jun 14, 2016

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Superb Documentary

Superb. This film unpacks the ultimate existential question: when is life worth leaving (Hamlet anyone?). Never sappy or simplistic, Left on Purpose shows the poignant interation between Mayer and the filmmaker, one who has to grow into his role as therapist, chronicler and mediator of life's biggest inflection point. On a parallel track, the story of Mayer's early productive political activism highlights the divide between a life well-lived and a descent into irreparable despair. You can't watch this documentary without being deeply moved.

Poignant and powerful; don't miss it

Heartbreaking, beautfilly crafted story about human dignity, idealism, hope, and its loss. A fascinating history lessson (that could not be more topical) wrapped inside an incredibly intimate portrait. Filmmaker Justin Schein expertly walks a tightrope, having been personally drawn into the on-camera story that he initially approached in the more standard non-intrusive documentary manner. The result is unique and deeply moving. The ending in particular is handled with such grace and elegance that people in the theater where I saw it were openly weeping. I can recommend no other film I've seen this year so highly.

Moving & Relevant

As heartbreaking as the story inevitably becomes, this doc preserves and embodies the levity and rebellious spirit of it's subject Mayer Vishner thoroughly beyond his & the film's endings. From a historical standpoint, it also presents insights and timeless perspectives that are newly relevant to the recent surge of activism and resistance taking place in the world right now.

Left On Purpose
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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2016

Customer Ratings