Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. 100
    The performances are uncommonly fine...Lone Star isn't built to ride trends. It's built to last.
  2. 100
    This film is a wonder - the best work yet by one of our most original and independent filmmakers - and after it is over, and you begin to think about it, its meanings begin to flower.
  3. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    100
    Even one-scene characters are unforgettable, but Sayles really gets under the skin of his struggling-to-be-heroic leads, Sam and Pilar. Long after this summer's crop of action flicks is gone, you'll watch this for the third or fourth time and see fresh material. Outstanding.
  4. Gratifyingly complex and beautifully told, this tale explores a huge array of cultural, racial, economic and familial tensions. In the process, it also sustains strong characters, deep emotions and clear dramatic force.
  5. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    100
    A richly textured and thoroughly engrossing drama that ranks with indie filmmaker John SaylesJohn Sayles' finest work.
  6. Reviewed by: John Krewson
    90
    A strange and thoughtful story, told in unhurried conversations and artful flashbacks. The things people keep from themselves are just as important to this mystery as the things they keep from each other, and that transforms Lone Star from a mere mystery into something much richer.
  7. Leisurely yet intense (Sayles does the editing himself), Lone Star reveals a director whose mastery does nothing but increase. Perhaps now his audience will as well.
  8. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    The payoff comes at the end, when the myriad threads pull together with a shock like a noose tightening around your neck. Built with old-fashioned craftsmanship, Lone Star is not a movie you'll quickly forget. [8 July 1996, p.64]
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    90
    Sayles is a meditative storyteller, with a tendency to mute melodrama rather than letting it wail. But he is also one of the few filmmakers still ferreting out the strangeness and anxiety hidden beneath our poses of ordinariness. [22 July 1996, p.95]
  10. Reviewed by: Robert Faires
    89
    The range of characters here is daringly broad, but Sayles is able to touch on the humanity of each (with considerable help from a gifted and eminently watchable cast), and the details of the region -- the heat, the beautiful but often unforgiving landscape, and especially the pride of the residents -- are vivid and true.
  11. 88
    Sayles cannily blends drama, romance, mystery, and social observation into a satisfying, if slightly overlong, whole. In the hands of a lesser film maker, this material could easily have degenerated into routine melodrama, but Sayles keeps it on a consistently high level.
  12. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    83
    The biggest problem with Lone Star is that colorful Charley Wade isn't the center of the movie -- it's bland Sam Deeds. Cooper isn't a compelling enough movie star to carry us along some of the film's more languid twists and turns.
  13. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    The film stumbles a bit towards the end (some deeply rooted conflicts are implausibly resolved), but terrific performances from a large cast -- particularly Elizabeth Pena as Sam's childhood sweetheart -- smooth over the rough spots.
  14. The most enjoyable John Sayles movie in recent memory.
  15. John Sayles's offbeat western shows how public controversies often overlap with private grudges and conflicting memories.
  16. By the end, it is clear just how much in control Sayles has been all along. The resolution, though typically restrained, forcefully puts over the movie's point, that we're all more connected than we think.
  17. While I was watching "Lone Star," I realized that what makes Sayles a good and socially responsible person - his ability to look at one thing a hundred different ways - is exactly what makes him a muddy filmmaker.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    [A] socially conscious sprawler... Sayles' latest never bores during its 21/4-hour unreeling. But neither does it soar, despite finessing a complex flashback narrative set in 1957 and present-day. [21 June 1996, p.3D]
  19. The script is a tidy work of carpentry, in several time planes and with a tart finish. Tense moments abound, fights and shootings and near-drownings, but they seem items drawn from casework files. [5 Aug 1996, p.26]
  20. The whole thing's so worthy that I wish I liked it more. It makes time pass agreeably, but Square John still seems about as innocent of fresh ideas (aesthetically and otherwise) as most of his characters, and for this kind of leftist multiplot I found his "City of Hope" more engaging.
  21. 40
    Why ... does it feel so lifeless?
  22. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    30
    Sayles speaks the language of cinematic formula so automatically -- his reunited lovers slow dance to a jukebox in a dark, deserted cafe and wait unannounced outside each other's workplaces when they want to talk -- that he's forgotten that real people don't do this stuff.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Sep 28, 2013
    8
    If anything I found this one a little too complex; there were several threads that seemed totally unrelated to the main thrust of the story.If anything I found this one a little too complex; there were several threads that seemed totally unrelated to the main thrust of the story. It’s also, I felt, a little too long; the filmmakers are asking quite a lot for an audience to concentrate for two hours and fifteen minutes. It is slow paced, but I didn’t particularly mind that; I’m used to the noir style and it is usually quite a slow burner. Some great performances with Chris Cooper coping well with the leading role and Kris Kristofferson playing the villain of the peace with gusto. Also we have Elizabeth Peña, who did an excellent job as the female lead and a small part for Matthew McConaughey as Buddy Deeds. Although it does have its problems I still found it an excellent watch; definitely one to look out for for all you noir fans out there.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.5/10.
    Full Review »
  2. DeusaV.
    Sep 15, 2007
    9
    It´s a beautilful film, I recommend!!!! Several stories and also flashback. Actors are very good. I had a good time.