Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    May 19, 2011
    100
    A mesmerizing cinematic journey that is often as arduous and spare as the lives of its hard-bitten protagonists.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 21, 2011
    100
    Kelly Reichardt's marvelous, minimalist epic, amounts to a master class in the power of observation.
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Apr 13, 2011
    100
    Temperamentally in sync with her "Wendy and Lucy" director, Michelle Williams plays one of the toiling wives. And the actress, with her calm center, compresses the entire history of frontier wifeliness into the concentration with which she gathers firewood and loads a musket.
  4. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Apr 7, 2011
    100
    Meek's Cutoff is as unsentimental and determined as Ms. Williams's character, its absolutely believable heroine. It is also a bracingly original foray into territory that remains, in every sense, unsettled.
  5. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Apr 7, 2011
    100
    Meticulous and immersive, Meek's Cutoff feels like history in three dimensions.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Apr 5, 2011
    100
    Reichardt crafts a highly textured narrative that both invokes the mythology of the American frontier and cleverly transcends it.
  7. Reviewed by: Steve Ramos
    Apr 4, 2011
    100
    Epic in scope, and featuring a powerful lead performance by Williams, Reichardt does justice to the myth of the wagon train settlers and makes a Western every bit as beautiful and poetic as Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven," and thankfully a bit more energetic.
  8. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Apr 4, 2011
    100
    In this quiet, beautiful and terrifying fable about a group of lost pioneers, Reichardt combines epic ambition with a focus on intimate, personal detail.
  9. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Apr 21, 2011
    90
    A lyrical poem for some, like watching paint dry for others. I'd argue for embracing the poetic, a rare commodity in American films these days.
  10. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Apr 8, 2011
    90
    It's a deceptively small piece of onscreen art that resonates afterward with such insistence that I felt positively nagged by it.
  11. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 7, 2011
    90
    Meek's Cutoff is an ambitious feat of visual storytelling that's alive to both its landscape and the actors who people it.
  12. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Apr 4, 2011
    90
    Working on a richer and more intricate canvas than she's previously attempted, Kelly Reichardt has pulled off a rare thing with Meek's Cutoff -- a low-budget period Western with a bracing feminist spin.
  13. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    May 13, 2011
    88
    En route, what emerges is the kind of film, rich in paradox, that's common to Reichardt but so rare anywhere else – a film ponderously slow in pace yet kinetically charged with insight; starkly realistic yet allegorical too; psychologically astute yet politically resonant.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    May 12, 2011
    88
    Notwithstanding exquisite images that evoke Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven," city-slicker audiences may find themselves getting saddle sore. But those with the courage to explore uncharted territory will be rewarded with a rough gem of a movie.
  15. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    May 12, 2011
    88
    Meek's Cutoff is more an experience than a story. It has personality conflicts, but isn't about them. The suspicions and angers of the group are essentially irrelevant to their overwhelming reality. Reichardt has the courage to establish that.
  16. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    May 12, 2011
    88
    The film is not for the frantic of spirit. Its steady rhythm and even-handed tone threaten occasionally to stultify. But little things mean a lot in this universe, as they should.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 5, 2011
    88
    There's nothing out there remotely like Meek's Cutoff, for which some viewers may be thankful. The ending seems calculated to drive the literal-minded screaming out of the theater and yet it's the only possible way out.
  18. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Apr 8, 2011
    88
    A Western, but any similarities between it and, say, a Gene Autry or Hopalong Cassidy shoot-em-up are nonexistent.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 7, 2011
    88
    Reichardt has crafted a haunted dream of a movie to get lost in.
  20. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Apr 7, 2011
    85
    If Meek's Cutoff is every inch a Western, it's an art-film mutant of the genre, inching along with intensely naturalistic obsession for detail that courts tedium even as it dares us not to pay attention.
  21. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 21, 2011
    83
    Like the bits of home life its pioneers have brought with them to an alien landscape, the careful craft grounds the film in a reality that is as much felt as it is observed.
  22. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    May 26, 2011
    80
    Greenwood is fantastic; his Meek occasionally lets down his facade of omniscience - but only occasionally. And Williams gives Emily not dignity exactly, but a calm, steely insistence on survival.
  23. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    May 12, 2011
    80
    Reichardt keeps this so hypnotic from shot to shot that you can easily get wrapped up in it as a sensory experience.
  24. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Apr 11, 2011
    80
    This impressionist Western won't be everyone's slug of bourbon but it's a slow burn that will richly reward the patient.
  25. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Apr 10, 2011
    80
    This is a grippingly original work, with gorgeous cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt, and the first hour or more achieves something like greatness.
  26. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Apr 8, 2011
    80
    Reichardt is trying, as she was in her previous film, "Wendy and Lucy," for a mood of existential objectivty. She takes us from the florid grandiosity of Western myth to the bone-wearying stress of mere life. [11 April, 2011 p.89]
  27. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Apr 5, 2011
    80
    Cinematic as it is, Meek's Cutoff has an uncanny theatricality. The scenes alternating between windswept emptiness and the dark void could be played on a barren stage. For all its detailed authenticity, this minimalist "Wagon Train" is less naturalistic than existential.
  28. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    May 5, 2011
    78
    This revisionist Western – intellectually, aesthetically, and narratively absorbing – rattles to the bone, but never quite rends the heart.
  29. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    May 5, 2011
    75
    I wanted to like Meek's Cutoff more than I did. Reichardt and her writer, Jonathan Raymond, bring a quiet, watchful sensibility to their work, allowing the actors room to reflect and riff. But the stilted language and rectitude of the times don't always mesh with the acting.
  30. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 23, 2011
    75
    For a movie about hard-driving pioneers, there is nevertheless much existential ennui in the air.
  31. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Apr 4, 2011
    70
    A realistic slice of pioneer life that offers a disquieting alternative vision of America's most mythic location.
  32. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    May 25, 2011
    63
    To call Meek's Cutoff slow doesn't begin to describe its pace. There are stretches that are, frankly, boring. But the vivid details and intimacy you develop with these travelers sticks with you.
  33. 60
    For all its indirection, Meek's Cutoff is an utterly conventional film. But it's worth asking whether Reichardt's drowsy rhythms, stripped-down scenario, and female vantage add up to something illuminating. And here's where she earns at least some of those plaudits she's been getting.
  34. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Apr 8, 2011
    60
    In this visually and emotionally severe landscape, Reichardt has created the sort of film that will inspire grad students to write passionate thesis papers - and casual moviegoers to feel as lost as her would-be settlers.
  35. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 6, 2011
    60
    Meek's Cutoff has found its passionate defenders, those who admire it almost because of its meandering, heavily politicized nature. Yet you might try it-and try it again-and still only grab a handful of dust.
  36. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Apr 6, 2011
    25
    Who goes to the movies for 104 minutes of punishment? Where is John Wayne, now that we need him?
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 18
  2. Negative: 8 out of 18
  1. Aug 11, 2011
    8
    In the name of all that's holy, let's never put any demands on the audience. If we did they might have to do some serious thinking about character dynamics, racial attitudes in the 19th century, trust and distrust of authority figures, the influence of landscapes in films, all sorts of stuff. Before you know it, you've got elitism.... the opposite of which, I guess, is the great common touch of mindlessness. Full Review »
  2. Aug 22, 2011
    9
    When something visually stunning is ignored, sometimes, in the movies, there is a feeling of disappointment and neglect that can distance the film right away from its viewer. But when, in a movie, every aspect and detail of beauty is carefully shown and appreciated, very much like in "Meek's Cutoff", we, the viewers, feel a warmth and desire to enter the picture and interact with all the little pieces that make it so great. Fortunately, in Kelly Reichardt's marvelous, minimalist epic film, those little pieces are spread through the screen and include both the characters and plot of the film as well as the insignificant but important surroundings of it. "Meek's Cutoff" is above everything an experience with the power of observation, managed so masterly and convincingly that you won't turn your eyes away. Full Review »
  3. May 2, 2011
    3
    Slept most of the movie. Cinematography is impeccable. All the details are done with perfection. But there is not much else. Left the theater quite disappointed. Full Review »