Metascore
85

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

User Score
5.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 54 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 lostThe 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) Expand
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 19
  2. Negative: 9 out of 19
  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 ofAt 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. Collapse
  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 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 aboutIn 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 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 theaterSlept 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. Expand
  5. Jan 3, 2012
    2
    Is it possible that the gorgeous cinematography and historical attention to detail confuses people into thinking that this is a better movieIs it possible that the gorgeous cinematography and historical attention to detail confuses people into thinking that this is a better movie than it is? The real story of Meek's Cutoff was sweeping, dramatic and epic and this movie has boiled it down to weak soup. How rare - it's usually the other way around in Hollywood. The ending is...insulting. Please don't condescend by declaring it great and the need for clear endings to be bourgeois. I don't ever need neat clean tidy endings and appreciate ambiguity in many circumstances in art, but this was ridiculous. So insulting that I was moved to write my first review here to warn others who have little time to catch great movies. If you are a history buff or appreciate a period drama, watch the first 5 minutes. That's really all you need. Beautifully shot with great acting, but to quote Gertrude Stein, there is no "there" there. Expand
  6. Apr 8, 2011
    2
    Critic dudes, wtf?! This movie blew. Tortorously tedious. Love and respect for MW but the story was pathetic. A 6th grade play at best. AnCritic dudes, wtf?! This movie blew. Tortorously tedious. Love and respect for MW but the story was pathetic. A 6th grade play at best. An 86??!! Stay away, people. Expand
  7. Dec 4, 2014
    0
    What an utter worthless bore beyond belief, and yet again so many jackass critics praised it because they sniffed something pretentious. TheWhat an utter worthless bore beyond belief, and yet again so many jackass critics praised it because they sniffed something pretentious. The actors are all phony (and some have been very good in other things) delivering mostly unintelligible dialogue which there is NEVER any excuse for! Make a silent film then.
    And in this case it might as well have been as the narrative is extremely weak. Authenticity as excuse for sheer laziness. The idiotic decision to shoot the image in the old TV 4x3 square aspect ratio on a WESTERN no less just shows why novices like this should not be allowed to make movies!
    Expand

See all 19 User Reviews

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