Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 18
  2. Negative: 1 out of 18
  1. 88
    The exceptionally strong cast showcases American, British, and Australian actresses, all of whom show an astonishing willingness to appear in physically unflattering circumstances (no makeup, hair and skin caked with drying mud).
  2. Reviewed by: Edvins Beitiks
    It's a beautiful movie. Too beautiful for its own good, really.
  3. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Though carefully rendered from a historical perspective, this powerful account of female friendship and bonding under the most cruel conditions lacks the narrative focus and dramatic shapeliness to generate emotional excitement.
  4. Given the predictable scenario, this picture needs passion, and all it gets is his workmanlike precision. What he's constructed is worthy enough, and certainly navigable, but you need more than the bricks of craft to build a road to paradise.
  5. In trying to keep track of everybody while providing enough melodrama to sustain an atmosphere of controlled terror, Paradise Road stumbles all over itself and never really finds its center.
  6. Beresford, who'd like to teach the world to sing, makes the moment as moving as a Coca-Cola jingle. It's not the real thing, but it's effective.
  7. 50
    What should have been an affecting film becomes a rank blend of sentiment and sadism in the hands of Bruce Beresford, the Australian writer and director.
  8. 50
    But what the movie lacks is a story arc to pull us through.
  9. The story has charming and uplifting moments as well as strong performances by an impressive cast.
  10. A big problem in the beautifully shot movie, with top-billed Glenn Close heading a fine ensemble cast, is that there are too many characters.
  11. Reviewed by: Staff(not credited)
    It's strange to imagine the subject of World War II a now no-brainer in the same league as sequels and old TV show-spinoffs, something safe and familiar in light of its new, "inspiring" spin. But that's the only way to explain the existence of this otherwise pointless picture.
  12. A warmhearted horror show that puts cliched movie people into a realistic situation, the signals it sends out are nothing but mixed.
  13. But the inspirational aspects of the tale--which mainly has to do with the determination of Close to form a vocal orchestra at the camp, despite the class divisions between the women--never quite carry the dramatic impact they're supposed to.
  14. 40
    Ultimately, Paradise Road is one of those well-intended films that doesn't completely succeed because it shortsightedly believes that its eloquent subject matter is enough, in and of itself, to create a memorable moviegoing experience.
  15. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    But in shaping their tale for the screen, shouldn't he have honored their courage--and, yes, inventiveness--with something other than cliches?
  16. There's grist here for a genuinely stirring film. But writer-director Bruce Beresford -- who created the screenplay from interviews with real-life World War II prisoners (who also performed music for the Japanese) -- reduces everything to its most uninteresting banality. [18Apr1997 Pg. N.44]
  17. 40
    A queasy union of savagery and uplift, the film ought to be unnerving. Instead, it finally becomes routine. [18Apr1997 Pg. C.07]
  18. 38
    It settles for the recycled emotions of the past despite the fact "Schindler's List" has forever made such treatment shamefully passe. [18Apr1997 Pg.03.D]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. Oct 16, 2012
    With a lack of tension in the resiliency of the women, there is little in the way of overall tension nor, ultimately, point in their endless suffering. Full Review »
  2. Jun 20, 2012
    The only 'good' thing about this movie was the Vocal Orchestra that helped to uplift spirits on both sides of the war. This is a good movie if you want to cry for most of it. Not so good if you have to study it for English Full Review »
  3. JudeM.
    Apr 19, 2006
    Immensely moved, especially by the fact that original scores which survived the camp were used for the vocal orchestra.