Metascore
49

Mixed or average reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 16
  2. Negative: 2 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by: Maureen M. Hart
    75
    The film does a fine job of displaying the contrasts between these tense, formalized Chinese students and the faux populist American academics.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    Hypnotic, culturally pertinent drama.
  3. Dark Matter, with its view of cutthroat politics and competing egos inside a university, is also laudable in its refusal to soft-pedal the viciously petty side of the academic fishbowl.
  4. 70
    First-time director Chen Shi-Zheng shows great sensitivity to the pressure and isolation felt by Chinese brains at American universities, and the relationship between Liu and Quinn provides a rare look at the intellectual serfdom of graduate study.
  5. Director Chen Shi-Zheng's film has a graceful energy, and three strong performances help make this serene drama - and its shocking conclusion - quietly moving.
  6. Reviewed by: Zack Haddad
    60
    This is a great film, to a point. Unfortunately the ending doesn't deliver, making the entire feature an exercise is wasted potential. But maybe that's the point.
  7. Chen Shi-Zheng, well regarded as an opera and theater director, makes his feature film debut.
  8. 50
    An unsatisfying drama that premiered at Sundance '07 and was supposedly delayed because of the Virginia Tech shootings.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    The final act of Dark Matter is grim but unconvincing, and the shortfall leaves an ugly, exploitive taste in your mouth.
  10. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    50
    Never fully succeeds in burrowing under its protagonist's skin, despite conspicuous effort.
  11. Reviewed by: Gregory Kirschling
    42
    Liu Ye is too inexpressive for his role's demands, and the movie doesn't build to his downfall: It just zaps itself there.
  12. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    40
    It’s hard to ask for juicier, or more timely, subject matter than high-pressure academic ambition turning violent, but to map the descent of a genius into madness isn’t a task to be taken lightly.
  13. 40
    Dark Matter has neither the technical command of an art-house film nor the manufactured intensity of a grade-B thriller, yet it's also too cheap and dirty to feel like a Hollywood-scale drama.
  14. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    40
    It is easy to see the film as two movies crammed together, neither of them being very good.
  15. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    30
    First-time filmmaker Shi-Zheng Chen shows little aptitude for accurately transcribing the textures of human interaction; there's not a single credible performance here, not excluding Meryl Streep as a faculty Sinophile, doing that thing where she grinds every line through a gauntlet of tremulous inflections.
  16. Reviewed by: Reyhan Harmanci
    25
    If only it weren't based on a true story. It might have been a good movie.

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