User Score
4.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 265 Ratings

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  1. ChineseBoy
    Mar 29, 2004
    6
    There is a sh.t-load of people in this movie! Ranging from Portman to the two dudes in 28 Days Later. Too bad the film is over-acted and really slow. Well made, but pretty much really boring.
  2. JonathanH.
    Apr 2, 2004
    5
    This movie is not as bad as some of the people here have voted but i have to admit, i didn't care for it. I didn't like the romance and didn't care for usually wonderful Zellweger, If you want to see her in a great film see the wonderful little seen film "The Whole Wide World."
  3. OpheliaA.
    Dec 30, 2003
    5
    Nicole wears too much make up throughout the movie for the period and the perils she was going through.
  4. TimR.
    Jan 14, 2004
    4
    I only have two good words to say about this film, but they can wait. Every year Hollywood trots out a film that is carefully designed to win a bag of Oscars, and every year it looks like, as you would expect, a Hollywood film designed to win a bag of Oscars. It is always a drama (comedies don't win Oscars) and is often a tragedy, as in this case. It has true love, bad guys (who I only have two good words to say about this film, but they can wait. Every year Hollywood trots out a film that is carefully designed to win a bag of Oscars, and every year it looks like, as you would expect, a Hollywood film designed to win a bag of Oscars. It is always a drama (comedies don't win Oscars) and is often a tragedy, as in this case. It has true love, bad guys (who might as well be wearing black hats they are so clichéd), some trite moral (like war is bad, or sometimes just bad is bad) and good triumphing over evil. It has Oscar wannabes trying to lift their credentials by being convincing in small parts (in this case Natalie Portman as a newly widowed single mother, Giovanni Ribisi as a Southern Judas, Philip Seymour Hoffman as a wayward preacher). It has attractive lead actors and an air of gravitas given by the careful casting of a semi-retired Hollywood legend in a small but central role (in this case it is Donald Sutherland as Ada's father who gets to draw a generous pension cheque). It is always overambitious, unsubtle and overblown. It is invariably way too long. Sadly, half the time it does win a bag of Oscars. The story this time? Lonely southern preacher's daughter, totally impractical and jacked up on romance novels, takes a fancy to farmyard boy who is pretty but probably daft and apparently mute (although he never has trouble being eloquent in the film). She imagines torrid and fated romance, á la Wuthering Heights, which she reads later in the film, just in case you don't get it. Pretty boy ships out to war, finally figures it's a bummer, walks home having had various adventures, mostly lifted from Homer's Odysseus, (he goes to fight his enemy in a distant city, he rejects the advances of Southern Sirens (and a single mother), fights battles against impossible odds, has a protector/goddess who dispenses medicine and advice, he kills those who attempted to take his place, thereby restoring order to 'his kingdom'). He's the luckiest bastard on the planet; bullets and bayonets just about always miss, women tend to him and throw themselves at him, he always escapes death when no-one else does. She is just like Odysseus's wife Penelope, not interested in the advances of suitors, remaining true to the hope of his survival, although what she's doing in bed with Renée Zellweger is nobody's business but theirs. Since Odysseus is about 3,000 years old this story is pretty well worn. Anyway, they get it on, then his luck runs out, she ends up a single mum and life goes on as a Utopian matriarchy. The penultimate scene has her covering a lamb in the skin of its dead mother in an attempt to save its life. I think it might be a reference to those who go before us, that even in death their memory, and their deeds, are our protection. Maybe. These film types really fancy themselves as clever and all that. I saw it as a metaphor for the film, a sheep in sheep's clothing. The two good words? Renée Zellweger, who I usually despise, was pretty good, I thought. Expand
  5. FivosB.
    Sep 10, 2006
    6
    Great cinematography, brilliant performances from the supporting actors but I have seen far better performances by Nicole Kidman and Jude Law. Not to mention that the chemistry between them isn't that good. In fact it fully justifies the title of the movie!
  6. MattK.
    Dec 18, 2003
    6
    Nothing wrong with this movie, it is quite good, but no where even close to comparison with the return of the king.
  7. SteveG.
    Jan 26, 2004
    5
    My doubts about this movie came not during the watching (it is a well constructed film in many ways) but afterwards when I wondered quite what I'd seen. It wasn't a bad film but for all its pretensions it didn't quite add up. There are issues in it that aren't resolved and the 'romance' between Jude Law and Nicole Kidman is unconvincing. The arrival of the My doubts about this movie came not during the watching (it is a well constructed film in many ways) but afterwards when I wondered quite what I'd seen. It wasn't a bad film but for all its pretensions it didn't quite add up. There are issues in it that aren't resolved and the 'romance' between Jude Law and Nicole Kidman is unconvincing. The arrival of the usually excellent Renee Zellwegger saved it from falling away completely but questions remain about why there was no dramatic tension in the arrival of certain characters and how some of the situations they found themselves in didn't expand our understanding of the characters involved. Some things were pushed in to keep two diverse storylines going and equally dropped when they became too awkward or challenging. Expand
  8. BillR.
    Feb 12, 2004
    5
    Anyone know a euphemism for 'sucks bunnies through an almost dead straw'? Minghella's latest bore features pretty inferior, muddy cinematography, to my shock; particularly during the early skirmishes (thank God, actually, that the war is shoved to the sidelines here). Seriously, Minghella can't get all the gore and blood-letting on display to make much of an impact. It Anyone know a euphemism for 'sucks bunnies through an almost dead straw'? Minghella's latest bore features pretty inferior, muddy cinematography, to my shock; particularly during the early skirmishes (thank God, actually, that the war is shoved to the sidelines here). Seriously, Minghella can't get all the gore and blood-letting on display to make much of an impact. It just plays out unpleasantly amateurish, as was Full Metal Jacket's (at least in my opinion). And the performances? Yikes. What a wretched waste of an ensemble, *almost* enough to reduce me to tears - those involved come off either painfully rote (i.e. LAW), pitifully caricaturish (Zellweger, Hoffman, Ribisi, Hunnam), hinting at a vitality that never sinks in (Sutherland, Portman) or a haphazard mixture of the above (Kidman, Winstone). Oh yeah, a shame about the clunky visual metaphors and dialogue encompassing the entire movie. An even greater shame it's got delivery to match (and not even very well-acted delivery, either). Nothing positive to see here or assemble from this pointedly self-important, limp mess, people - Move along. Expand
  9. DavidB.
    Dec 19, 2003
    4
    Really pretty, totally shallow no real characters no connection between kidman and law. never scratches the surface. what a shame.
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. A somber, often downbeat depiction of human savagery and treachery as well as of human kindness. Writer-director Anthony Minghella has meticulously crafted an intimate epic.
  2. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    As he did in “The English Patient,” Minghella artfully weds movie-movie romanticism with a dark historical vision. The man knows how to cast a spell.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    80
    A grim picaresque odyssey across a beautiful scarred landscape laced together by private romantic longing. Handsomely made and vividly acted.