Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29

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Critic Reviews

  1. A film that takes you by surprise, refusing to relinquish its grim, fascinating hold. Better yet, it has crept up on us without much advance promotional fanfare. The less known about its twists, the better.
  2. David Mackenzie, who directed the remarkable Scottish drama "Young Adam" (2003), delivers another masterful, disturbing tale of illicit passion, erotic obsession, and sudden death set in the 1950s.
  3. 80
    It's one of the year's signature film experiences.
  4. Patrick McGrath's novel provides a solid and suspenseful story, even if it loses much of its bite in Mackenzie's hands.
  5. 75
    The film, with its uniformly terrific cast, stern Gothic overtones and steady but measured pacing, is a crisp, old-fashioned delight, eschewing cheap tricks for repeated tiny pricks of unease that work up to a continuous gnawing dread.
  6. 67
    The delectably atmospheric Asylum remains gothic to its morally maggoty core.
  7. Asylum is as dark as Dracula's mood on a moonless night, and people suffering from depression should think twice before opening the coffin. This thing would put off Mary Poppins.
  8. Natasha Richardson glides through the film version of Patrick McGrath's novel Asylum in various states of fear, desire and undress, a swan among Yorkshire frumps.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A classy unintentional hoot.
  10. 60
    Mackenzie's film could almost use one or two lurid touches in place of its stately distance. Then again, a more stylized approach might have allowed less room for Richardson, whose unsparing performance makes other elements almost irrelevant.
  11. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    It may not be as daring as Young Adam, but this is a well-performed adaptation of an absorbing melodrama.
  12. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    Overly plotted erotic drama.
  13. 50
    Mackenzie and Marber opt for an anonymous viewpoint of clinical detachment, which generates about the same psychodramatic tension as reading the "DSM-IV."
  14. Nothing wrecks the mood of a high-toned British period piece about erotic obsession quicker than an unintentional laugh. In which case, prepare for Asylum to be derailed by snorts in all the wrong places.
  15. 50
    I hope to God that Patrick McGrath's novel Asylum, about a bunch of repressed Brits manipulating the stuffing out of one another in a 1950s psychiatric hospital, is better than the shallowly competent exercise in nastiness that British director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Patrick Marber have made of it.
  16. The strong cast keeps the material from descending into sheer smutty tripe, but it's an uphill battle and in the end, not really worth their considerable efforts.
  17. 50
    McKellen, Csokas, Bonneville and particularly Richardson are so good and convincing in their characterizations that you can almost overlook the increasingly unbelievable twists that Asylum takes. Almost.
  18. The best you can say of Asylum is that it plays like a topless "Twilight Zone."
  19. 50
    It's an overwrought Gothic melodrama that has a nice first act before it descends into shameless absurdity.
  20. 50
    Much of the dialogue is scissor-sharp--you would expect no less of Marber, who wrote "Closer"--but he is up against blunt and obvious material.
  21. Alternately tedious, cliched and unintentionally funny.
  22. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    McKellen's actions are queerly unpredictable (pun intended), but every plot other twist is portentously foreshadowed.
  23. A psychological thriller without bothering much with psychology. Come to think of it, the thrills are pretty much missing, as well.
  24. Dreary, claustrophobic drama.
  25. It's too over-the-top, too lurid and at times simply too silly to represent any kind of valid commentary on the repressive '50s or the way in which institutions tend to destroy rather than cure. "Far From Heaven," which nailed '50s angst to perfection, Asylum could not be farther from.
  26. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    Ms. Richardson and Mr. Csokas are sunk mainly by the script (it's the handiwork of "Closer" playwright Patrick Marber and Chrysanthy Balis) and by their complete lack of chemistry. Still, their performances do them no credit.
  27. It's just so darn annoying to watch this attractive, seemingly smart woman throw her life away for some (admittedly rather hot) sex in the greenhouse.
  28. 10
    Shouldn't fool viewers into thinking it's anything but a pseudo-artsy piece of tripe.

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