Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
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  1. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The pervasive chill, ugly feelings and downward spiral of the narrative make this a work that requires an equally sober, serious-minded attitude on the part of the viewer.
  2. 60
    Schrader has always been better as a writer and a critic than as a dramatist, which is why his most successful work has either been published in film journals or directed by Martin Scorsese. His flat, awkward staging diminishes some good performances -- particularly those of Nolte and a welcome Sissy Spacek.
  3. 60
    Caustic and despairing, Shrader's film lacks the delicate beauty of Atom Agoyan's "Sweet Hereafter," but has just as much bitter power.
  4. A brave effort to stare down the specter of American failure, it gets off on the wrong foot by pretentiously turning the doomed hero into a Christ figure--a traffic cop with arms extended in crucifixion mode--before the story even gets started.
  5. Reviewed by: Jennifer Nowitzky
    More frustrating, however, are the many side stories, which introduce potential conflicts but never fully form, as well as completely unnecessary voice-overs that come late in the movie and culminate in a final monologue, which tells the audience what to think, rather than allowing us to decide what it's all about for ourselves.

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