Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
Watch On
  1. 100
    In this magnificent, profoundly tragic film, Nolte and Coburn each turn in career-best performances as a father and son who embody the ancient, seemingly ineradicable male pathology of violence, retribution, and the slow death of the soul.
  2. 100
    Nolte and Coburn are magnificent in this film, which is like an expiation or amends for abusive men. It is revealing to watch them in their scenes together--to see how they're able to use physical presence to sketch the history of a relationship.
  3. This is a nearly miraculous conjunction of director, material and actor.
  4. 100
    Affliction turns the sound on with sudden, crystalline clarity, and echoes with the haunting power of a suppressed truth that has finally been released.
  5. Schrader and Nolte are both at the height of their expressive powers in a film that, in its concentration and sobriety, leaves a lasting impression.
  6. Searing, intense and unrelenting, Affliction moves to the deepest centers of experience and desire and brings its characters to unflinching life.
  7. Affliction -- a beautiful bummer, a magnificent feel-bad movie -- is American filmmaking of a most rewarding order.
  8. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    Succeeds in finding something larger than one man's misery. It turns dark truthfulness into the cinematic sentiment most worth celebrating this season.
  9. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Affliction could be their (Nolte, Coburn) finest couple of hours on film; they do seem to be father and son, rather than actors playing these roles.
  10. Reviewed by: Norman Green
    Ranks with the year's scant handful of must-see movies, for the scant handful of moviegoers who revere powerful stories, disturbing, unforgettable characters, plots with the serious sweep of literature, and kickass acting above all else.
  11. 90
    This is anything but pleasant stuff, but it's a must-see for anyone interested in men and women, fathers and sons, and the kind of murder mystery in which the real casualty is the human soul.
  12. Never has an actor embodied the passing down of violence and bitterness from father to son more powerfully.
  13. 90
    As chilly a spectacle as you're likely to see. It's like watching a comeback in an empty stadium.
  14. 90
    We marvel at the almost perfect realization of a character whom we're not necessarily meant to like.
  15. Rarely have a novelist and filmmaker been better matched.
  16. 90
    Affliction is a harsh experience, but the harshness isn't a matter of punishing the audience or of the director, Schrader, showing off his toughness: That unvarnished harshness is the very essence of the material.
  17. 88
    Affliction is for anyone willing to take the journey into the heart and soul of a troubled man on the edge.
  18. 88
    Violence may provide entertainment value in more crass or commercially minded projects, but in the unflinching world of Affliction, it leads only to the ruination of your soul. [5 February 1999, Friday, p.D]

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