Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 26
  2. Negative: 6 out of 26
  1. 88
    A Slipping-Down Life may be low-key, but if you enter its unique atmosphere, you will leave exhilarated.
  2. 75
    The movie is not a great dramatic statement, but you know that from the modesty of the title. It is about movement in emotional waters that had long been still. Taylor makes it work because she quietly suggests that when Evie's life has stalled, something drastic was needed to shock her back into action, and the carving worked as well as anything.
  3. Taylor is utterly believable even when the screenplay (from an Anne Tyler novel) is too self-consciously quirky, and Pearce nicely portrays the guy she obsesses over.
  4. Reviewed by: Kevin Crust
    The casting of Taylor gives the film a powerful center, a bright light that keeps it on course.
  5. While the movie is content to be merely atmospheric, the performances convince you that here are two misfits who might be a perfect fit.
  6. 60
    Struggles valiantly to keep its head above whimsy, and though the movie finally succumbs to an excess of heartwarming, it's a promising college try from a first-time writer-director.
  7. Although mood often substitutes for momentum in Ms. Kalem's film, both of her stars give affecting performances, and there's growth on both sides of the unlikely romance.
  8. 50
    Mostly, by story's end, we're just glad they and their unfortunate clothing are out of our sight for good.
  9. Has an oddness and whimsicality about it that can, at first, be confused for authenticity.
  10. Reviewed by: Bill White
    The plot contrivances in which the story is ultimately sewn include the death of a father, an unexpected pregnancy, the sale of a house and the rest of the rigmarole that bad writers are prone to drag in at the last moment. It's too bad, because these characters deserved a better story.
  11. A Slipping-Down Life has a worn, scruffy feeling. It gazes lovingly at vintage clothes and battered old cars as if they were the visible signs of authenticity, wishing that its morose, disconnected inhabitants could somehow be touched with the same elusive quality.
  12. As it plays, it simply feels like a kind of cop-out. Nobody changes that much.
  13. Taylor does that thing she does when she whispers as if she has just discovered speech; Pearce enjoys himself doing his own singing, and embracing grunge.
  14. 40
    Pearce can sing, but Drum's trademark "speaking out" -- free-associative ramblings that recall Jim Morrison of the Doors at his most embarrassingly pretentious -- falls far short of the hypnotic effect Tyler describes.
  15. There is also a lot of good supporting work in this movie, including the performances of Irma P Hall, Tom Bowser as Evie's clueless dad, and Bruno Kirby as Kiddie Acres' gruff impresario.
  16. 40
    The two leads help create an atmosphere of quiet surety, but they can't elevate the film beyond its self-imposed smallness.
  17. 40
    While the camera unsuccessfully courts Southern gothic humor, caressing a hodgepodge of retro-fetish knickknacks, the actors' knowing glances seem to look beyond the confines not only of the town, but of the film itself.
  18. Taylor and Pearce just aren't believable.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    A curiously bland drama that fails to fulfill the promise of its early scenes.
  20. 40
    Writer-director Toni Kallem generates some touching moments (most of them involving Tom Bower as Taylor's wisp of a father), but this never surmounts the woeful miscasting of its two leads.
  21. I have not read the Anne Tyler novella from which the movie is adapted, but it is clear from the earliest scenes that Evie and Drumstrings are of a different generation from 37-year-old Taylor and 36-year-old Pearce.
  22. 38
    Kalem's grasp of dramatic storytelling is no firmer, and the disorderly film merely chases its tail for the second half, going nowhere fast.
  23. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A sluggish, tedious film about lost souls living dead-end lives in a dead-end town. Their actions often defy rationality.
  24. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The director deserves admiration for sticking to her guns, but here's a heretical notion: Maybe the producer's cut would have been a better movie. This version may be too late, but it's also too little, and that's what hurts.
  25. As a whole, the film is a perplexing, dark and brooding exercise, which only makes its inappropriately cheery ending feel all the more slight.
  26. Released in theaters five years after its 1999 Sundance Film Festival premiere, Kalem's film is too precious, too self-conscious and far too enamored with itself to ever have any kind of genuine emotional truth.
User Score

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User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. JamesH
    Dec 7, 2009
    In spite of Guy Pearce's enigmatic performance, the film is too slow moving and strange to be successful. Lili Taylor is once again In spite of Guy Pearce's enigmatic performance, the film is too slow moving and strange to be successful. Lili Taylor is once again bland, but she does give a decent performance. I am supposed to care about some obsessed nutcase that carves the name of her idol with broken glass on her forehead? Don't thinkl so! Pearce does his own singing and is quite good. Full Review »