Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Sep 5, 2014
    91
    Whatever the case, the film resounds with hyperbolic passion. Hot bubbling currents flow through this film’s constricted veins.
  2. 90
    Gregory and Demme have turned A Master Builder into (pardon my invoking the name of a Strindberg work) a dream play, and have made it once more madly, bitingly, chillingly alive.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jul 22, 2014
    90
    Demme, following in the footsteps of the late Louis Malle, takes a spare, direct approach to the material -- his economy pays off in quiet eloquence.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Sep 11, 2014
    88
    The performances ratchet up to giddy near-hysteria, as Hilde toys with Solness’s randiness and repressed memory.
  5. Reviewed by: Hedy Weiss
    Aug 8, 2014
    88
    The cast is uniformly superb. But it is the palpable erotic tension between Solness and the mysterious, bewitchingly nubile Hilde (who he may have sexually abused or at least titillated a decade earlier) that drives the film.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Sobczynski
    Aug 8, 2014
    75
    While A Master Builder never really catches fire as a film, it is still more or less worth watching.
  7. Reviewed by: Chuck Bowen
    Jul 21, 2014
    75
    Jonathan Demme makes loving sport of the trust his actors have clearly placed in him, erecting for them a monument to the joys and terrors of walking an emotional high wire.
  8. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Aug 1, 2014
    70
    A Master Builder is a bold endeavor, thriftily made, and there is muscle and volume in the performances; but had Demme hung back, and kept things cooler and quieter, the mastery of what Ibsen built, and the agon of his extraordinary hero, would have cast a more looming shadow. [4 Aug. 2014, p.75]
  9. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Jul 24, 2014
    70
    With such well-tuned performances and scattered intensity, it's unfortunate that the technical aspects of the film are not always up to par.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Jul 23, 2014
    67
    Demme barely even makes an effort, shooting mostly in bland close-ups with the occasional zoom for completely random emphasis. Nor does A Master Builder have any meta-element—it’s like "Vanya On 42nd Street" without 42nd Street.
  11. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Sep 18, 2014
    63
    For a movie that lasts longer than two hours and is made up solely of talking, it’s impressive that the story never seems to drag. But with all of the possibilities of movie magic, it’s a shame that the characters keep us at arm’s length.
  12. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jul 22, 2014
    60
    Shawn’s adaptation mostly follows Ibsen’s original text, which is what keeps A Master Builder on the level of a well-meaning but only intermittently electrifying exercise.
  13. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Jul 22, 2014
    60
    As both an actor and a playwright, Wallace Shawn, at his most audacious, goes for the jugular, but in sneaky roundabout ways.
  14. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jul 15, 2014
    60
    The film adheres closely to a well-reviewed theater production cocreated by and starring Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, both of whom get to riff on their prickly "My Dinner with Andre" rapport.
  15. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jul 24, 2014
    50
    A Master Builder really doesn’t work, hampered by odd casting, theatrical performances and a reductive interpretation of Ibsen’s play.
  16. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Jul 24, 2014
    40
    The adaptation lacks a strong enough sense of modulated construction, making for a tedious sit. One of the biggest problems, though, is the performances.
  17. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Jul 23, 2014
    38
    The film is full of baffling choices, like the EKG machine that beeps for the first 40 minutes, so loud and so maddening that the great words barely register. Mumblecore is not a good look for Ibsen.

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