Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

1 hour, 34 minutes

Watch it for...

An intimate and insightful homage to a legendary writer, a caring mother, and dedicated wife that reminds viewers of the true power of family.


Legendary author of The Year of Magical Thinking and Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion frequently mined her personal life for her ground-breaking and raw essays and books.  This documentary fondly looks back on the life of this tiny but mighty woman who spoke her truth to power. Viewers are brought into Didion’s life and career through archival footage and interviews, including readings of her works. Directed by her nephew, actor and filmmaker Griffin Dunne, and featuring interviews with celebrity friends and family members, the documentary travels the arc of her young life, through her prolific career, her marriage to John Gregory Dunne, and both the tragic death of her daughter Quintana and the death of her husband. Dunne aims to introduce the audience to the woman behind the writing, which he does with warmth and affection, making it a gentler look than it might have been if the subject wasn’t his aunt.

Annie's thoughts

Joan Didion was clearly an American icon and a powerful woman, so I was glad to learn more about her life and work and found her story both moving and inspiring. She really is a legend who endured with dignity and grace, and she’ll live on as one of the great American journalists. This loving documentary by her nephew encapsulates her life, loves, and losses. I really admired how her crystal clear mind, even in her 80s, cuts through this film, spinning yarns and incisive observations. It was also sometimes shocking and a little uncomfortably funny hearing her talk about the 60’s Haight-Ashbury scene, and meeting The Doors. But what really stuck with me is her talking about her late husband and daughter, who tragically died young. It made me tear up! I highly recommend this documentary.