Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. A breathtaking story of defiance and triumph that has to be considered one of the year's most sublime films.
  2. 100
    I love Rabbit-Proof Fence as drama, as protest, as moviemaking and as poetry.
  3. 100
    The result is a film that outrages and fills the viewer with poetry that's at once epic and intimate, scandalizing and life-affirming -- a real work of art.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    This is a chase movie (Simon Legree after three Little Evas) across parched outback terrain, captured with rapturous authenticity by cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
  5. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    Noyce uses his Hollywood craft to unfold this primal, powerful story, he has an epic feel for the harshly beautiful Australian landscape and he gets wonderfully natural performances from the three girls. His bold, lyrical images stay in your head, like an unaccountably beautiful nightmare.
  6. A movie of minimalist moments (Molly's tiniest gestures speak volumes) and lovely, almost holy tableaux.
  7. 90
    Searing dramatization of a story of remarkable courage, stamina and spirit.
  8. 88
    The final scene of the film contains an appearance and a revelation of astonishing emotional power; not since the last shots of "Schindler's List" have I been so overcome with the realization that real people, in recent historical times, had to undergo such inhumanity.
  9. 88
    At an economical 94 minutes, Rabbit-Proof Fence trims all the fat and tells its heartfelt and stirring story. This is one of 2002's most memorable imports.
  10. The rabbits, foolishly introduced to a land that couldn't support them as they bred and dispersed, are symbols of the English: ravenous, unheeding, ineradicable and a constant threat to the native way of life.
  11. Noyce honors the story best by standing back (and getting Kenneth Branagh, as a supercilious official, to stand back, too): Noyce lets the landscape and the untrained young actresses own the screen, particularly the naturally magnetic Everlyn Sampi.
  12. Noyce's movie is a testament to endurance -- the camera caresses the landscape -- instilling us with a respect and reverence for it, its harsh ways and the attachment to it that Australia's indigenous people hold.
  13. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    80
    Thrilling, heart-wrenching tale of the real-life incredible journey.
  14. 80
    Noyce wants us to feel the joy of the homecoming, but he's honest enough to show, in a coda that tells what happened to the girls after their break for home, how Rabbit Proof Fence finally must be more a tale of courage than of victory.
  15. 80
    Where Noyce could easily have given Branagh a mustache and tilted the film toward old-fashioned melodrama, he leans on tactics that are less obvious and more effective.
  16. Based on a memoir by a grown daughter of the eldest girl and rarely digressing from the journey itself, the movie is a dusty, calloused, primal Odyssey, as forceful and single-minded as a bullet train.
  17. An old-fashioned weepie tucked inside a fiercely indicting political thriller.
  18. Although the movie, adapted from a book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, pushes emotional buttons and simplifies its true story to give it the clean narrative sweep of an extended folk ballad, it never goes dramatically overboard.
  19. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    80
    It succeeds emotionally in the cause of what seems to be its primary aim, to advance an attitudinal change in Australians not normally sympathetic to the aboriginal cause.
  20. Noyce has treated this story almost like a page of holy writ. If he has erred, it is in the very awe of his approach.
  21. The story is so black-and-white that one feels like hissing the villain (Kenneth Branagh) and cheering the heroines at every stage, but it's so amazing that the simplicity of the telling seems warranted.
  22. 78
    Its adult themes of familial separation and societal betrayal are head and shoulders above much of the director’s previous popcorn work -– more hurt, more heart, more unassailable hope.
  23. Characters are so well-drawn, so human - that even in the harsh light of history - it remains difficult to understand how Australia allowed such inhumanity to become institutional, mechanized and accepted.
  24. Here, Noyce lets his camera, the geography and the youngsters tell this exceptionally powerful story.
  25. 75
    Noyce paces this amazing story well, and even if his young actors don't seem to have physically suffered as much as they would during such a long journey, he makes extremely good use of the bleak Outback scenery.
  26. 75
    As ambitious as this may be, however, the movie's objectives tax its energy even as the girls' plight tears at your heart.
  27. Reviewed by: Clint Morris
    70
    The performances of young Sampi, Monaghan and Sansbury are amazing. They’re immersing and compelling.
  28. The story itself is absolutely amazing, and the sense of outrage it evokes is universal, but director Noyce faces a difficult task in that once the story is set in motion there is very little action, other than walking shots of the girls, and almost no dialogue.
  29. Not until the final shot does Noyce rise up to the potential of the history: There's a sudden shiver of recognition, that, my God, these people really lived this.
  30. Kenneth Branagh overplays his portrayal of Neville, but most of the other characters are skillfully acted by a solid cast, including the great Aborigine actor David Gulpilil as the tracker. In all, this is a watchable movie that's not quite the memorable experience it might have been.
  31. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    50
    Achieves the impossible by taking one of the most compelling and harrowing stories imaginable and channeling it into one of the most ordinary movies of the year.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. patrickd.
    Nov 6, 2005
    9
    Dramatic and brilliant.
  2. Dec 21, 2013
    10
    Haunting, heart-breaking and powerful. Beautifully uncovers the ugliest and most shameful part of Australian history. This is an absolute must-see, even for non-Aussies. Full Review »