Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 31
  2. Negative: 3 out of 31
  1. Kaufman's startling Quills gives us an anatomy of fear, images both silken swift and molten hot, scenes that disrupt and inflame the imagination.
  2. 90
    It's an unapologetic dazzler, which is why it's never overwhelmed by its themes.
  3. 90
    A savage comedy of sexual extremes; the barbed laughs draw blood.
  4. Profane, sacrilegious, pornographic, sadistic and Sade-istic, titillating and the most honorable movie of the year.
  5. 88
    Finds a tone that remains more entertaining than depressing, more absorbing than alarming.
  6. 88
    This playful, immensely entertaining movie knows that art is in the eye of the beholder.
  7. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Uniformly robust acting puts still more feathers in the caps of Rush, Winslet and Caine.
  8. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    A witty yet fiery and, in the best sense, provocative play of ideas about freedom of expression.
  9. 80
    A literate, dialogue-driven treat delivered by a cast that truly savors the script's wicked wit.
  10. 80
    Remarkable energy and wit, and is probably the most purely enjoyable entry in Kaufman's suboeuvre of literary excursions.
  11. 80
    Kaufman's earnestly overblown celebration of the Marquis de Sade.
  12. 80
    The dialogue is sparkingly witty, and Phoenix and Winslet are excellent in what are, after all, meant to be fairly one-dimensional roles.
  13. 80
    Occasionally becomes pretentious and shrill -- sometimes Mr. Wright isn't aware that his material is so good that he doesn't need to comment on his characters.
  14. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    What the film does have is coruscating anger, impish wit, and a breathtaking style.
  15. Ridiculous enough to be hilarious, but this didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying Philip Kaufman's silly romp.
  16. The things you can look forward to, however, are the humor, intellectual musing, emotional tumult, superb acting and challenging adult questions.
  17. Rush is amazing throughout this absorbing, provocative film.
  18. Reviewed by: Gemma Files
    Quills -- like the Marquis himself--is a posey, pungent, ultra-theatrical yet weirdly seductive mess which wants to have its cake, eat it too and discuss the whole concept and context of its meal (constantly, contradictorily) while it does so.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Ultimately, Quills descends into overwrought melodrama. But at its bright and bawdy best, it bubbles with subversive wit.
  20. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Lacks an edge of danger or excitement that might have brought the subject alive in more than a cerebral way.
  21. Rush is too sinfully good for the drama he's in.
  22. A stunningly impassioned and articulate study of a writer's life and the censorial demons that can strangle that voice.
  23. Quills bleaches the danger -- and fascination -- out of De Sade, turning him into a kind of mad saint of ''Masterpiece Theatre'' porn.
  24. It's a work that preaches to the choir, and the song has been more subtly sung in better movies.
  25. 60
    Censorship, madness, social rebellion and the power of art.
  26. Quills is bound to titillate some, but for most it's likely to summon little more than a few Oscars and appreciative yawns.
  27. The acting is passionate, but the film would be more effective if it presented a more thoroughgoing lesson in the raging horrors that swept through European culture during the era of the French Revolution.
  28. One gets the feeling Kaufman was so intent on putting fury and fanaticism on-screen, he forgot about having it serve any greater purpose. Which makes Quills the film equivalent of one of de Sade's novels: artifice, without art.
  29. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This is soft-gore porn, obvious in its strategies, witless in the play of its ideas, absurdist only in its pretense to seriousness.
  30. Resembles a period version of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - played dead straight.
  31. Soon becomes a sadistic experience in its own right. Experiencing this pretentious wallow -- overwritten, under-thought and overdone -- is a very sophisticated form of torture.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17
  1. May 5, 2013
    A pretty well made film with some excellent performances, particularly from Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet. It did, however, seem incomplete; there were a couple of threads that didn’t seem to tie up. I was interested in the story of the doctor’s wife and also the wife of the Marquis. Both of these characters came and went without any reference to them again; I found that a little odd. I have never read any of the works of the Marquis de Sade, but having seen this I’m tempted to take a look and see if it’s really as depraved as they say. As for the film, definitely worth a look although I did find it a tad drawn out and a tad too long.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.1/10
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 6, 2012
    This movie is delightful! ...not quite sure what Todd (below) means by referring to Tom Cruise for he is not there. This movie is engaging, touching, humorous, and clever. The Art direction is fantastic; the performances outstanding, the ambience feels real! Each time I watch it I enjoy it as I did the first time. It is not a 10, not even a 9 -not to me- but Less than an 8? I don't think so! If you haven't watch it, and you can find it, do see will have the last word. Full Review »
  3. JayH.
    May 9, 2009
    Exquisitely produced, excellent acting by all, especially Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix and Kate Winslet. The costumes and sets are outstanding. However, I found it very talky and often tedious and I was downright bored at times. Yak yak yak yak. Full Review »