Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 Ratings

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  • Summary: The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in one another's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as a natural born enemy. (Oscilloscope Films) Collapse
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: Scott Tobias
    Apr 7, 2011
    100
    Meticulous and immersive, Meek's Cutoff feels like history in three dimensions.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 7, 2011
    88
    Reichardt has crafted a haunted dream of a movie to get lost in.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 18
  2. Negative: 8 out of 18
  1. Apr 8, 2011
    10
    At the Upper Westside movie theater we attended tonight the mostly middle aged and older viewers actually hooted when the movie ended. All of us had read the laudatory review in the New York Times, but it was clear that nobody agreed with it. Expand
  2. Umm
    Dec 20, 2011
    9
    I really enjoyed this movie and felt obligated to post a review to help its score a bit. It's beautifully shot, acted, and full of subtleties. I highly recommend it. There is a real sense of dread and terror. The director doesn't spoon feed the audience anything, or show his hand. Which makes it all the more nerve-wracking (in a very good way). Few movies can create such a natural sense of unease without relying on shock-factor tricks. It's shocking to me how people think that a movie they don't like is some kind of scam or ploy by filmmakers and critics. Sad. Expand
  3. 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. Expand
  4. May 31, 2011
    4
    A small group of pioneers is lost on the Oregon trail: that's pretty much the whole movie. The pacing is beyond slow: they trudge across the land, do simple chores, trudge some more. Much of the minimal dialogue is indiscernible and there's no emotional build. And to top it off, the movie doesn't endâ Expand
  5. Aug 10, 2012
    2
    Potentially one of the worst films I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through, most certainly credited to the absolute worst script I've ever seen make it to screen. The point of film is to "show, don't tell" as it's a visual medium, however, this film does the exact opposite, as most plot points are voiced over in dialogue and very little is actually shown, leading to a film that drags tremendously throughout. Expand
  6. Apr 28, 2011
    2
    The movie palpably attempted, to cleverly show the destitute conditions a 1845 settler family had to endure,searching for water. While it succeeded, it was quite mundane and laborious to watch. I found myself slumping on my chair, constantly trying to fixate my eyes on the screen but to no avail. From the elitist critics reviews and by the intriguing posters I thought it would be quite exuberant. It drags on at a sluggish pace and end at a slow pace as well. It exacerbates the audience further by having a ambiguous ending. The dialogue is minimal and when spoken is just muttered and very inaudible. Despite the families plight, I couldn't sympathise with them because of their bigotry towards the Indian. Who they fear and at the same time deem quintessential to obtaining water. At times I thought of many sadistic ways, in which a cavalcade of Indians would just come along and slaughter them. It would been more engrossing that way. I am a teenager after all what do you except from my generation? If a movie is arid, we will loathe it. I understand it is meant to have intellectual property and symbolism. But for god sake make it appealing to people. I don't watch movies to feel intelligent. I watch them to be entertained. Only a comatose patient would find this interesting. Expand
  7. Aug 14, 2011
    1
    Acting and direction are fine but hardly the most challenging of storylines. Do not allow this film to trick you into thinking it is more clever than it is. If it looks, sounds and smells like a boring film - it's because it is. No doubt the director wants to 'challenge perceptions' and words like 'subtle' and 'slow burning' will be used. This is an attempt by critics and movie industry insiders to pretend they view films on a different level to the rest of us - they know the film sucks and blows - just like everyone else, but they are afraid to say so for fear that they may be missing some 'profound message' hidden deep in the non-event that is this film.

    Absolutely nothing happens. On one occasion in the film, something almost threatens to happen but of course it doesn't. The coup de grace is the ending, which of course is no ending at all. Either this was an ill-conceived attempt to provoke thought and discussion or, as a I suspect to be the case, the esteemed director took the gamble that no one would actually endure the film to its pitiful conclusion.

    The film seeks to be an attempt to defy convention and this seems to be applauded without further consideration by critics these days. The challenge was set - prove you know more about films than the rest of us mere mortals by justifying the existence of this nonsense by writing a positive review - and the critics took up the baton like Olympic athletes. The simple truth is that the primary aim of films is to entertain. This can be done in many ways, I understand that. But a film that fails to entertain at all is a bad film - however cleverly or in defiance of common practice anbd wisdom this may be achieved.

    The genius of the film is to con the critics and wannabee arty types into thinking there is more to it than there actually is. It is the film equivalent of the composition by John Cage - 4'33" which consisted of 4 minutes 33 seconds of pure silence - no doubt the critics loved that too. The film appears to 'appeal' to people who are tired of the formulaic, big budget, cartoon hero, SFX Hollywood movies that dominate at the moment. I have some sympathy with that viewpoint. However, to jump on the bandwagon of a film simply because it flys in the face of what you dislike is to cheat yourselves. Hating what is already out there is not a good reason to try to justify the merit of anything different. The critics have proved how pointless and out of touch with reality they are. 80%+ of critics appear to love this film and yet I suspect that 99% of the general public who are honest with themselves, will hate it.

    People of the world - YOU deserve better - treat this film with the contempt IT deserves. Remember - the emperor wasn't wearing fine clothes, he was naked - and this film is terrible, however hard people with a thesaurus and some sort of movie industry qualification will try to convince you otherwise.
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See all 18 User Reviews

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