Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
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  1. 100
    That tragedy looms heavily in Behind the Sun only makes its life-affirming moments -- resonate more deeply and powerfully in a film that is one of the year's best.
  2. Carvalho's superb cinematography, Antonio Pinto's score and a dedicated cast and crew admirably sustain this poetic and uncompromising film.
  3. Beautiful to watch and universal in theme by any name.
  4. A compelling existential tableau: sweating bodies, creaking mills turned by numbed oxen, people facing the daily and seasonal cycles of life with little hope of breaking free. Behind the Sun is forceful stuff.
  5. 88
    When a culture offers little more than death upon death, appreciating life's everyday beauty is as good an answer as these characters -- and this filmmaker -- can provide.
  6. 80
    The movie's subject is brotherly love in all its extremes; the trajectory is grimly inevitable, and yet its final descent still manages to startle.
  7. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Consummately crafted and stunningly shot in magnificent locations deep in Brazil's remote northeastern badlands, the film unapologetically courts the commercial curve of the international arthouse arena with its rustic exotica and sensory overload of poetic imagery, giving it something of a grandiose air.
  8. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Salles is a master storyteller, and the film's pacing is flawless.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This movie is more emotionally remote than Salles' fine "Central Station." But it is starkly beautiful and says something potent to a world in which nations, like these families, engage in mindless blood feuds.
  10. Reviewed by: Renee Graham
    This is a deeper film, delving into the twisted motives that rule lives, the lethal cycles that shackle progress, and, ultimately, the courage it takes to choose life.
  11. A gorgeously photographed, sun-baked fable.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    This tale is both redemptive and tragic, if occasionally melodramatic.
  13. The blend of grim violence with romantic whimsy tilts toward sentimentality. Mr. Salles has the confidence of a storyteller too entranced by his tale to worry about the resistance of his audience, which he thus effortlessly overcomes.
  14. The story, which was inspired by an Albanian novel and the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus, ends with a literary patness. But it's still a potent tale of fraternal love and the loss of innocence.
  15. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    A film with a bare-bones story told with such potency that its occasional flights of heavy-handed symbolism are easily excused.
  16. It's all so visceral that it overwhelms the near-abstract story and smothers what passes for characters.
  17. 50
    It has some of the simplicity and starkness of classical tragedy, but what made me impatient was its fascination with the macho bloodlust of the two families.
  18. Reviewed by: Hank Sartin
    The appearance of circus performers in any film not by Fellini usually bodes ill, and it does so here.

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