Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 24
  2. Negative: 2 out of 24

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Critic Reviews

  1. Doesn't sanitize its tale of African American loss and survival -- the way Steven Spielberg's “The Color Purple'' did -- but delves deeply, heartbreakingly into an American tragedy.
  2. 90
    This terrifyingly beautiful movie blends metaphor and stark social commentary to achieve a spontaneous grace.
  3. The performances of all the central and secondary characters match the passionate intensity of the film's behind-the-scenes collaborators.
  4. Jonathan Demme's potent adaptation of Morrison's novel may be substantial, but it is also engrossing, a movie that plays at times like a combination of “Gone With The Wind” and “The Exorcist.”
  5. 88
    The film had a curious effect on me. I was sometimes confused about events as they happened, but all the pieces are there, and the film creates an emotional whole. It's more effective when it's complete than during the unfolding experience.
  6. 88
    Beloved is for those who want substance from a movie, and don't mind facing uncomfortable truths in the process.
  7. 75
    What is surprising -- remarkable even -- is that Beloved arrives onscreen with a minimum of dull virtue, gagging uplift and slick Hollywood gloss.
  8. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: David Kehr
    Has a great deal going for it. [16 October 1998, p. 57]
  9. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Often a cinematic marvel and often the year's most pungent movie medicine, Beloved always feels as if it's carrying the world's weight, and maybe it is. [16 October 1998, p. 7E]
  10. Beloved is ungainly and hard to follow at times, like the proverbial giant not quite sure how to best use its strength. But that power exists, present and undeniable, and once this film gets its bearings, the unsentimental fierceness of its vision brushes obstacles and quibbles from its path.
  11. Powerful, depressing and very, very long. At close to three hours, it virtually enslaves an audience, which may be part of the point.
  12. They've taken material with the power to insinuate itself directly into the realm of the imagination, and made it strangely inert and lifeless.
  13. Winfrey's performance is full of stoic anger, and individual moments have ferocity and pull, yet you're always aware of them as moments.
  14. Beloved tries to be an anthem of the spirit, and that's just about the most difficult--and unfilmable--thing you can attempt in the movies. Demme stretches things out to epic length, but what was really needed here was an epic imagination.
  15. The dramatic payoff is a bit disappointing; the movie is often overwrought; and its sense of its own importance finally wears you down.
  16. 50
    Though Beloved sags into repetition after two of its three hours, this beautiful movie is suffused with an intensity that holds our attention for the conclusion.
  17. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Demme is understandably reluctant to linger on the horrors of slavery, but it's a dramaturgical mistake. The quick, shocking flashbacks of Sethe's brutalization by her white masters don't do the job--they're horrific, but with a B movie luridness.
  18. Beloved works on its own but is much enhanced by familiarity with the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. In so ambitiously bringing this story to the screen, Ms. Winfrey underscores a favorite, invaluable credo: read the book.
  19. Much of the acting is solid, but earnest performances can't give the picture all the bite and excitement it sorely needs.
  20. 40
    Dutiful as it is, Jonathan Demme's Beloved doesn't succeed so much as it abides…it moves in leisurely fits and--unencumbered by style or narrative complexity--never loses its forward momentum.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    At nearly three hours, however, it rather overstays its welcome, trying the patience even as it sustains intrigue regarding its final revelations.
  22. 40
    One of the more high-minded and painful follies of recent years.
  23. 30
    When the movie isn't hitting us over the head, it's spooning out the material to us like broth to an invalid, drop by flavorless drop. The excruciating pace mirrors the sluggishness of Morrison's sonorous prose.
  24. 20
    Beloved has an almost gut-wrenching quality to it. But the same can't be said for the movie overall--it's a noble, ambitious failure, but a failure nonetheless.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. kinnithj
    Sep 15, 2009
    This is one of the most gripping and interesting films I've ever seen. its just so deep with its many metaphors and it really makes the This is one of the most gripping and interesting films I've ever seen. its just so deep with its many metaphors and it really makes the viewer think. I watched the film then immediately bought the book and read it two times back-to-back. It is just that interesting! Full Review »
  2. May 6, 2011
    A harrowing drama-ghost story which serves as a metaphor for the ugliness of past sins still haunting the present. Truly disturbingA harrowing drama-ghost story which serves as a metaphor for the ugliness of past sins still haunting the present. Truly disturbing film-making, full of grief and anguish that everyone tries to hide under the surface, but it all comes out in the end. Thandie Newton gave one of the best performances ever filmed, and the rest of the cast is nearly as riveting. This is a difficult film in a sense, but also very poetic and ultimately joyous. I highly recommend it. Full Review »