Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. A beautiful and genuinely spirit-lifting film about poverty and education.
  2. It's an uplifting movie about the rewards of perseverance and community.
  3. Has a slow-burning emotional power.
  4. 91
    If it touches up against the syrupy at a very few moments, it's nevertheless consistently clear-eyed and convincing.
  5. 80
    Zhang's work is always worth watching, but this is the first of his films in which the sorrows are so heart-rending, its many comic moments so laugh-out-loud human.
  6. 80
    The film's occasional dips into sentimental cuteness and its too-pat ending can't cancel the gap that yawns ever wider between rural and urban society.
  7. Reviewed by: Graham Fuller
    Simple but charming.
  8. Has a warmth and sweetness that is especially hard to resist.
  9. Reviewed by: A.O.Scott
    A splendid, assured piece of storytelling.
  10. In many ways, Not One Less resembles the socialist-realist dramas of the early Communist regimes.
  11. 75
    His story is simple, unadorned, direct. Only the margins are complicated.
  12. Reviewed by: Phoebe Flowers
    Zhang, who tried to make his actors as unaware of the camera as possible, lets the story evolve slowly and deliberately.
  13. A sweet, lushly photographed but occasionally slow film.
  14. It's an excellent movie for kids, because it is about how amazing children can be.
  15. Like a Sally Field movie by Vittorio De Sica: Zhang wants to affect you with the subtle sting of his politics.
  16. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    In style and story line, the film is daring in its simplicity.
  17. An empowering film for children, showing them at their most capable, working through problems and finding innovative solutions to overcome what seems like an insurmountable obstacle.
  18. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    This is much more than a typically one-dimensional message-movie -- it's obviously the work of a master filmmaker .
  19. At first, the picture is moving. . And suddenly charm turns to quasi-commie didacticism.
  20. Use of a loosely written screenplay and a nonprofessional cast in this picture weakens its dramatic appeal even as it lends authenticity and local color.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    To Western eyes, this meandering parable registers as a perplexity and a disappointment.
  22. Its resolution reeks of phoniness and self-congratulation, even if some of the narrative strands leading up to it are fairly absorbing.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Nov 11, 2013
    The film is exhausting, not the bad side of the word, he is strong and causes the viewer to anxiety and despair, and in the end, you feel. Wei is a heroine of the real world. Full Review »
  2. TYL
    Dec 2, 2008
    Innocent, charming, real and moving. I've traveled the east and this movie reminds me of some of the harsh realities of rural areas and the small yet significant miracles of humanity. Full Review »
  3. R.C,
    Nov 2, 2007
    After living in China for 1 1/2 years I related to the interesting dynamics of the people in the movie. It was not unlike real life experienced by those that live in the country. Very Chinese. Full Review »