Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 1 out of 18
  1. 100
    Assayas has made a great film from Jacques Chardonne's classic novel. Although far different in tone, time, place and temperament, it brings to mind "Gone With the Wind" in its depth and scope and in its love story, which unfolds over a turbulent era.
  2. 100
    Like a good novel, Les Destinées is many things: a family chronicle, a series of psychological portraits, a sumptuous re-creation of the past. But the film is also a pointed tribute to the French tradition of quality and distinction, a tradition in which it clearly includes itself.
  3. 91
    Rich in detail, gorgeously shot and beautifully acted, Les Destinees is, in its quiet, epic way, daring, inventive and refreshingly unusual.
  4. 90
    An exquisite metaphor for the high cost and higher returns of an enduring marriage.
  5. 90
    An impressively coordinated enterprise that lasts three hours, manages a large cast, and covers a period of 30-odd years while successfully unfolding as a series of scenes from the life of a single character.
  6. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    A massive undertaking and an accomplished piece of filmmaking in a solid tradition of intelligent, meticulous literary adaptations.
  7. 90
    Quiety sumptuous movie. [15 April 2002, p. 98]
  8. 88
    It will not appeal to the impatient, but those who like long books and movies will admire the way it accumulates power and depth. It is about youthful idealism, headstrong love and fierce ambition, and is pessimistic about all of them.
  9. As befits a production of impeccable French pedigree, the acting, set design and lush cinematography are all outstanding. But the story is told so slowly.
  10. Reviewed by: Janice Page
    Full of elegance but hampered by lack of depth.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Béart and Berling are both superb, while Huppert -- imperious as a woman who turns her world into a moral prison to prove a point -- is magnificent.
  12. But the irony of Les Destinées is that while Assayas is a pro at examining the inner workings of present-day connection and nuance, he's so overwhelmed by the sheer historical scope and detail of this massive saga that after three hours we're starved for emotional involvement with such inaccessible characters.
  13. Elegantly photographed family saga that brims with period detail. Unfortunately, the underlying story is less than compelling,
  14. How great can an epic be, when it takes 30 years, including a whole sequence devoted to World War I, for Jean to realize he could be a little nicer to his wife? This is for diehard Francophiles and literate-movie fans only.
  15. It's as elegant as any movie around, though, and boasts strong acting by a distinguished cast.
  16. Pictorial but oddly muffled three-hour saga of romance and capitalism, not necessarily in that order.
  17. 50
    Les Destinées has a leisurely, contemplative pace without ever growing boring. Still, at the end, we are left somehow empty. For all the time we spend with these people, we never really get inside of them.
  18. The movie suffers from two fatal ailments -- a dearth of vitality and a story that's shapeless and uninflected.

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