Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. An unusually satisfying and inspiring historical epic from one of contemporary cinema's best filmmakers.
  2. The movie is the usual kind of film biography of a respected figure from the distant past - honorable, oversimplified, handsome.
  3. 80
    In the first 10 minutes, I feared the picture would be dull and earnest -- until, about a half-hour later, I realized it was lively and earnest, and also refreshingly, unapologetically movielike.
  4. Fortunately, director Michael Apted and his team understand the challenges of this kind of story and have met them with intelligence and energy.
  5. 75
    Apted delivers a fine, righteous climax and packs his film with some of Britain's best character actors.
  6. Compelling and highly informative.
  7. 75
    This is the British way to mingle ideas and entertainment.
  8. Apted opts not to show the horrendous cruelty inflicted on thousands upon thousands of captive Africans, shackled and chained, making their way to the Americas in ships. Instead, he has Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists describe the inhumane conditions - in the precise, passionate language of legislators who believe that human decency is more important than money and power.
  9. Anyone who has ever felt morally right and completely in the minority will have a point of entry into this movie.
  10. 75
    A workmanlike piece of storytelling elevated by fine performances.
  11. 75
    Unlike its subject, Amazing Grace won't change the world, but its quasi-religious sense of conviction proves rousing. Apted's unexpected crowd-pleaser is inspirational, but also surprisingly entertaining.
  12. Michael Apted's Amazing Grace is a beautifully chiseled blunt instrument. No, it's not subtle, but how subtle was slavery?
  13. The overall effect is part BBC-style biography, part Hollywood-like hagiography, and generally pleasing and often moving, even when the story wobbles off the historical rails or becomes bogged down in dopey romance.
  14. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    70
    Picture reflects the no-nonsense storytelling skills of prolific helmer Michael Apted, whose career-long mix of feature and documentary work holds him in good stead once more.
  15. A case of good works done well.
  16. The dialogue is bright, historically styled yet lithe; the characterizations are graphic even with minor people.
  17. 70
    Flawed but ambitious, this biopic of British parliamentarian William Wilberforce closely tracks the political maneuvering of the late 18th and early 19th century as reformers campaign to end Britain's participation in the slave trade.
  18. 67
    Although the structure is clunky, the ensuing parliamentary machinations prove witty and fascinating.
  19. 63
    It's disappointing that so much talent has been assembled with so little to do.
  20. What's missing, in the direction no less than the script, is any real sense of dramatic urgency.
  21. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    60
    There's so much story here that the characters don't have quite enough room to breathe, but it's still a fascinating look at a time, and a man, worth remembering.
  22. Reviewed by: Gregory Kirschling
    58
    It's earnest, solemn stuff. The movie sings an old tune -- Albert Finney is the blind minister who wrote the title ditty -- and it leaves the blood unstirred.
  23. Apted and his collaborators are so in awe of their subject they neglect to bring him to full human life.
  24. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    It's a doughty movie, stuck halfway between Masterpiece Theatre and Classics Illustrated, but, to his credit, gifted journeyman director Michael Apted understands he's playing the long game.
  25. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    50
    Earnest, respectful and thoroughly dull.
  26. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    50
    Unfortunately for Barbara and for us, what makes William Wilberforce a great man is also what makes him a bore.
  27. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    50
    Morally irreproachable and flat as a pancake.
  28. If Amazing Grace serves its most superficial purpose -- to educate the viewer -- it's hardly compelling viewing.
  29. [Apted] also has an unfortunate penchant for bland stateliness, and never more so than in Amazing Grace, a well-intentioned piece of historical waxworks.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 42 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
  1. Sep 17, 2011
    9
    I thought this movie was great. It's been a little while since I've seen it, but I remember really enjoying it. There was a lot happening so I lost the story from time to time but eventually figured out what was going on. A movie everyone should see at least once. Full Review »
  2. Aug 12, 2010
    10
    Great movie. It's hard to believe that people like that exist. It prompted me to read up on some history, get out John Newton's auto-biography. I'm so grateful for such movies. Full Review »