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.
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 »