Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27
  1. 75
    Doesn't reach for reality; it's a deliberate attempt to look and feel like a 1940s social problems picture, right down to the texture of the color photography.
  2. The result would be an important drama if the screenplay (based on an early Arthur Miller novel) didn't lapse into preachiness and imprecision at times.
  3. 75
    Obviously a labor of love for all involved, including GOP mayoral candidate Michael Bloomberg, who bankrolled the production and receives full producer credit. He deserves it.
  4. About American anti-Semitism, but it's not a typical genteel "cause" movie.
  5. A cautionary tale that's harrowing, heartbreaking and -- especially given the times, when Americans seem all-too-ready to once again judge people as a threat solely by their appearance -- disturbingly resonant.
  6. Yes, the movie is obvious at time, banging you over the head with its message, and the use of shadows on a wall can seem overly broad. But these are small complaints when compared to the film's many strengths.
  7. It's a good film but an over-obvious one. I wish I'd liked it more.
  8. 63
    This film and Miller's vision remind us of the danger of giving in to fear.
  9. Feels somehow incomplete. It may be that its visual metaphor is more effective in literature than in film.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Two constants: good acting and an old-fashioned preachiness that backfires.
  11. 60
    A hyperreal, visually layered period style that finds film noir shadows creeping in at the edges of a blue-sky, get-along-to-go-along America.
  12. 60
    Dern and Macy give doughty performances in schematic roles, but glasses or no, these have to be two of the least Semitic-looking actors in American movies.
  13. The movie's surreal style, with its film-noir camerawork and ominous lighting, turns the story into a fable about fear and nonconformism, and Mr. Macy's and Ms. Dern's carefully shaded caricatures match the mood.
  14. 60
    This insidiously complex satire is filled with apparent digressions, and our complete identification with the man occurs so gradually that it's impossible to pinpoint just when our previous disdain becomes a position of relative comfort.
  15. The script is full of holes and the premise is not especially credible.
  16. Only David Paymer -- and the actor formerly known as the singer Meat Loaf, playing Newman's suspicious neighbor, ring true.
  17. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Seems embalmed in its own time, an earnest and handsomely crafted museum piece, not an urgent transposition of Miller's moral outrage to the new century.
  18. Even if they're on the side of the angels, 106 minutes is a long time to keep this sermon going.
  19. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The film is rich in period detail and a keen visual sense of irony, but it's curiously static; scenes that blister the pages of Miller's novel barely move.
  20. A movie worth viewing. Besides, it's the only movie to boast NYC millionaire mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg as its executive producer.
  21. 50
    No denying the relevance of the tale.
  22. Works better as a subject for high school study rather than lasting art.
  23. 50
    The topic certainly suits the times, but the director's approach is as alienating as it is old-fashioned.
  24. 40
    Relevant message aside, there's no good reason to sit through photographer Neal Slavin's directorial debut.
  25. While Macy is persuasive, much of Focus is not.
  26. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    A stilted, heavy-handed parable about fascistic intolerance.
  27. Has a topsy-turvy sense of injustice.

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