Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

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  • Summary: Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay... come what may. This film is loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996. (Sony Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Feb 24, 2011
    More than anything, Of Gods and Men is a drama of character, and warm humanity.
  2. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Feb 24, 2011
    What he (Beauvois) conveys, through austere but spectacular visual language, magnificent liturgical singing and an ensemble cast headed by the terrific French veteran actors Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale, is something of the "why."
  3. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Apr 21, 2011
    I can't recall the last film that so wholly, honestly and movingly explained what it means to be a Christian.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 17, 2011
    Like the best spiritual movies, of whatever faith, "Of Gods and Men" moves us toward a union with the infinite, and when we come to the monks' last supper, the moment is staggeringly powerful.
  5. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Feb 22, 2011
    Godly as the monks are, they are still human-which makes their ultimate sacrifice all the more devastating.
  6. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 24, 2011
    Ultimately, the story can be seen as the collision of two equally uncompromising belief systems, each its own form of fundamentalism. That neither benefits from the encounter should come as no surprise to anyone with the slightest knowledge of human history.
  7. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Feb 21, 2011
    There are eight individual decisions to be made here, yet Beauvois never humanizes any of his monks. The film instead consumes itself with songs, communal prayers and nightly meals.

See all 29 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 11
  2. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. Jul 6, 2014
    Of Gods and Men explores a variety of complex religious themes and ideas through the re-telling of a true story of a group of French monks caught up in the Algerian civil war. The film is not a simplistic showcase of good versus evil but is instead a deeply human tale of tolerance, fear and strength. No character falls into the trap of caricature, even the terrorists have depth and motive. The believability of the characters creates a realness that makes the film a more powerful emotional experience.
    The film begins by introducing us to the monks. The monastery in which they live is a quiet place and their routines consist of tending to the gardens, reading, praying and interacting with the Muslim townsfolk. Importantly one of the monks, Luc (Michael Lonsdale) acts as the town doctor. The relationship between the monks and the townsfolk is one of mutual respect and friendship. The cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the natural beauty of the landscape and the simplistic beauty of the monastery.
    The monk’s peaceful existence is shaken when word reaches the town that Islamist militants are taking over the countryside. The slow pace of the opening half is so calming that when violence breaks out the audience shares the peoples shock and worry.
    It becomes immediately apparent that the monk’s lives are in danger. The monk’s world slowly comes crumbling down around their epicentre which is the monastery. The French government and Algerian officials urge them to escape while the town’s people plead for them not to abandon them. The group of monks is dividend on what decision to make. Difficult questions cause repressed raw emotions to bubble to the surface. Is it okay to accept help from a corrupt government? When is it acceptable for the Sheppard to leave his flock? What good does martyrdom do?
    The group is rightly afraid and sometimes the fear takes control. Lambert Wilson (playing Christian) delivers a fine performance as a man struggling with leadership in a harrowing situation. The first confrontation scene is truly terrific, with trembling Christian putting on a brave face, a combination of fear and determination.
    It is hard not to be emotional for the second half of the film. The monk’s moral presence is felt ubiquitously. In every act of violence or cruelty, whether on screen or off, the monk’s sadness permeates from the screen. The honesty of the characters naturally draws the audience’s empathy. There is a specific scene which I will not reveal in which the worldly combines with the spiritual that results in one of the most powerful emotional climaxes I have ever seen.
    I highly recommend viewing this film regardless of one’s religious beliefs or background. The film shows both the good that can be achieved through belief as well as the bad. Luc quotes Pascal to remind us that “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction”. The message the film preaches transcends any specific faith as it is one of love, peace, acceptance and harmony.
  2. Apr 20, 2011
    The most spiritual and uplifting movie in quite a while. And if you don't like spiritual then how about charity and duty to one's fellow man. It's probably too slow paced for many young people but not for those who are wondering about their souls. Eight Trappist monks have to face up to the probability that their lives are in mortal danger if they stay in their monastery in Algeria, which is being ripped apart by a civil war between a secular Muslim government and extremists. How they come individually to their decisions is explored steadily over the movie's length. We see how they live and most importantly how they interweave almost seamlessly with their Arab neighbors. As they abjure from proselytizing and offer medical, farming, and other social needs they are respected. But they are Christians and they are foreigners and the extremists view them with at least a very jaundiced eye, and at most with evil intent. This is not a movie about terrorists, nor a movie about Frenchmen, but about faith and a deep sense of duty to that faith. It's not a movie just for Christians or even Catholics, it's a movie for all faiths and creeds as it speaks to the fundamental question of our role on earth: what is our purpose? Expand
  3. Mar 5, 2011
    A beautiful film. Probably helps just a bit if you're Catholic, but the ecumenical spirit among the priests & their Muslim neighbors is refreshing. Finally, we see monks/missionaries/priests in a positive light. Amazing courage in the face of irrational danger. Of the 30+ people in my theater, maybe 8 walked out before it was over - it can be a little slow at times. But it works! Inspirational. Expand
  4. Apr 29, 2011
    While I admit the film moves slowly, it tells the touching story of men who truly live their faith. Although I am not Catholic, I admired the commitment of the monks to make the world a better place -- for everyone, not just for those who shared their religion. Expand
  5. May 4, 2011
    I thought the film was way too slow but it made its spiritual point in the last half hour. I think it would have served the director to include a little more about the political situation in Algeria. The film needed something to keep you awake. By the way, I am not religious but I was moved. Expand
  6. Apr 24, 2011
    While this movie is fairly watchable and a justifiable sit-through, it could have been way better. Considering the depth of the real-life events it's based on, the movie is somewhat weak. It also doesn't help that the regimented life of the monks are filmed at length and shown repeatedly. Moreover, the editing feels somewhat jumpy and haphazard. IMHO, it doesn't deserve the astronomical metacritic score it received. Nevertheless, its spiritual themes are intact, making it a worthwhile film. Expand
  7. Apr 22, 2011
    i have no idea what the critics are talking about. this movie is for people who enjoyed the passion of the christ. it is horribly slow and uninteresting. and to top it off it's depressing too. really no need to watch this unless you're super christian and into boring movies. Expand

See all 11 User Reviews


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