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Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 362 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A groundbreaking controversial drama about the tragic consequences of racism in a family. (New Line Cinema)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. 100
    A shockingly powerful screed against racism that also manages to be so well performed and directed that it is entertaining as well. [30 October 1998, Friday, p.A]
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jolting, superbly acted film.
  3. 80
    American History X is a crash course on how to make a message movie that resonates with crackling power.
  4. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It's a testament to Norton's utter immersion in the role that he can even halfway connect the dots between this fundamentally sweet, brainy kid and the magnetic, white trash monster who'll haunt our minds long after the movie's liberal pieties fade into static.
  5. Excellent in flashes, unintentionally absurd and lead-footed at other moments, the movie stumbles under the weight of its own grandiose intentions.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It's hard to know whom to blame for the film's choppiness, its mixture of rage and sentimentality, the stridency of some of the acting.
  7. A mousy little nothing of a picture.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 98 out of 102
  2. Negative: 3 out of 102
  1. Nov 23, 2010
    One of the greatest movies I've ever seen, with an amazing, captivating performance by Edward Norton. This film sheds light on issues that many people in society are afraid to discuss or take seriously. A beautifully composed film, a must see. Expand
  2. adaml
    May 30, 2009
    Unbelievable film. great acting performance by ed norton and genius directing by tony kaye, although he didn't feel he was able to make it exactly how he wanted it in the final editing. The movie gives a great message, and shows how some perfectly valid right wing ideas can go completely misconstrued. Expand
  3. MelissaT.
    Oct 3, 2005
    This movie pisses you off, makes you cry, and think about "What you have done to make your life better."
  4. Oct 24, 2014
    Just a masterpiece! A new point of view to racism with a worldwide message.Great acting by Norton.Fabulous ending. Really an underrated movie.With a worldwide message.A must see. Expand
  5. RodG.
    Feb 21, 2007
    Way too good of a movie for the critics to come up with a 62 rating. Well acted. I think it gave a realistic insight to why some people believe what they believe. I don't think anybody would argue that racism is ugly and terrible. I compare this movie to "Crash" as far as attempting to show small unseen factors that effect people. Expand
  6. Nov 19, 2014
    American History X is one of the most shocking, brutal, disturbing and evil spirited films I've ever seen. Edward Norton gives an absolute masterclass and the two performances he gives either side of his characters transition are both incredibly captivating. There's no doubting how manipulative and pretentious this film can be. And at times the propaganda can even feel persuasively targeted at the audience. But to the films credit that's what makes it so compelling. And ultimately you cannot believe such evil, destructive & irrational people like this actually exist. Tony Kaye's overall direction is impressive and the black and white sequences in particular look stunning. American History X is certainly a tough film to enjoy but personally I think it's essential viewing and an incredibly bold piece of filmmaking. Expand
  7. Aug 25, 2011
    What we have here is a message picture determined to undo itself, with simple ideas (see: I think racism is a tad more complicated than Norton and his black friend) needlessly histrionic dialogue (see: interactions with family), and manipulating moments of over-drama with the force of a chainsaw rising out of a volcano (see: every scene in which racial atrocities are committed, which are all in black and white, slow-motion and have a choir singing the music of hell in the foreground). Collapse

See all 102 User Reviews


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