Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
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  1. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Oct 31, 2013
    Bastards is a thriller truly etched in darkness, pools of black broken mostly by the stricken yet soldiering faces of her main characters, like ships in a sea of stormy nights.
  2. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 22, 2013
    The story grips you entirely even if Ms. Denis’s worldview here finally feels like a tomb: terrifying, pitiless, inevitable.
  3. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Oct 8, 2013
    Conditioning the audience to find dread in every seemingly innocent gesture, the film turns even the simplest touch between family members into something tinged with menace.
  4. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Oct 23, 2013
    This as one of the director’s most pitiless visions—a drama as pitch black as the night that envelops its characters.
  5. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Feb 18, 2014
    Because genre lets us know roughly what to expect, it can put us at ease, which is the last thing Denis wants to do. So she leaves questions hanging and mysteries unsolved.
  6. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Feb 10, 2014
    Denis’ sparse story delivers details on a need-to-know basis, right up to the finale. Strong on atmos, thanks to Tindersticks’ score, it’ll chill you to the core.
  7. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Oct 23, 2013
    Denis’ atmospherics, as usual, carry the day.
  8. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Oct 22, 2013
    If Bastards is cold, it’s never clinical; rather, it’s a fully engaged, deeply moral movie about people who are neither.
  9. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Aug 22, 2013
    Even at its most opaque, Bastards always exerts a dreamlike pull rooted in Denis’ rhythmic layerings of image, sound and music.
  10. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Nov 27, 2013
    Bastards is both visceral and visual.
  11. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    May 25, 2013
    The Bastards feels like what happens when an undeniably great filmmaker stoops to sensationalism -- it’s a smarter, odder film than someone else would make with the same material, but it’s still smart, odd sensationalism.
  12. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Jul 7, 2014
    An impassioned, fly-on-the-wall look at a serious social issue.
  13. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    May 25, 2013
    A stylishly made but unyielding drama.
  14. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Oct 22, 2013
    Style can't fully compensate for a tale that, underneath its gorgeous affectations, proves undercooked, especially during a third act that provides duly titillating answers to its initially beguiling mysteries.
  15. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 25, 2013
    Bogged down by flashbacks and flash forwards, The Bastards pointlessly mixes up its ingredients, creating a distancing effect from the tangible sadness at its core. The result is the rare case of a movie that confirms its maker's skill while wasting it on useless ambition.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 25, 2013
    An oblique, by-design and frustrating drama, Claire Denis’ film about a man’s mysterious suicide and its repercussions is creepy, but finally too vague.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 25, 2013
    Denis's drama intrigues more than it actually delivers...Sleight of hand is all well and good. But sooner or later a film must pay up.

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