Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 28
  2. Negative: 4 out of 28
  1. 83
    If you might wish the film got deeper under the skin of the characters, you also feel grateful for the fact that you'll never get closer to them than watching it.
  2. 75
    Money, madness, incest and murder! Just the recipe for a twisted mesmerizer of a movie, if it doesn't creep you out.
  3. The film walks the fine line between exploitation and empathy to cast a chilly, memorable spell.
  4. Part of the film's failure to arouse real horror is the languid direction; not enough seems to be at stake emotionally.
  5. It's still primarily a showcase and offbeat star vehicle for Moore. It's a bravura role and she brings it off with a chilling malevolence and a strange, disjointed vulnerability that almost, but not quite, makes her sympathetic.
  6. Reviewed by: Bernard Besserglik
    U.S. viewers may be put off by its tangled sexual motifs and find its implied social critique a little close to the bone. But even Stateside, Julianne Moore, in her most challenging role in years, will win plaudits and attract mature audiences to a thoroughly absorbing and polished piece of work.
  7. Howard A. Rodman's script has a lot of juice, and the rhythms are so pregnant that the air vibrates with something, even if you're not sure what.
  8. Julianne Moore proves game for anything in this pitch-black true-crime reconstruction.
  9. The director, Tom Kalin, stages acid duels, but he should have provided more psychological structure. Though Moore, a great actress, turns fury into verbal music, we're never quite sure what's driving her.
  10. 67
    Savage Grace should have the force of Greek tragedy, but Kalin's chamber drama feels curiously stifling and flat, and Moore's volatile turn isn't enough to quicken its pulse.
  11. 63
    Living these lives, for these people, must have been sad and tedious, and so, inevitably, is their story, and it must be said, the film about it.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A chilly inquest into very bad behavior, Savage Grace is presented to us like an entrée at a five-star French restaurant. It's decadence under glass.
  13. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    It's tough to think of another film in which sex between a mother and her son is not necessarily the worst thing that happens.
  14. Savage Grace comes up bland and seems to go nowhere in particular.
  15. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Has everything one could ask of a true-crime expose.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Savage Grace is a thoroughly disturbing story, told in a detached style rendering the overall experience an unsettling blend of lurid and vacuous.
  17. 50
    Rarely has appalling, reckless behavior been so soporific as in Savage Grace.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Scripter Howard A. Rodman's treatment of an enthralling book is more a series of vignettes rather than a fully connected work, and helmer Tom Kalin seems unable to decide how much Sirkian melodrama to introduce into the heady mix. Gone are the reasons to be fascinated with these people, merely replaced with maddeningly over-arch dialogue and struggles with characterization.
  19. The film includes graphic omnisexual and incestuous couplings and has an air of free-floating dread but, especially given its subject matter, it's oddly vacuous – it rarely takes hold emotionally even when its people hit bottom with a resounding thud.
  20. "Grace" may be based on a true story, but barely a moment in it feels real.
  21. Reviewed by: Jamie Tipps
    To be sure, it's a very pretty, well acted production; however, that doesn't make up for the fact that I hated every minute of it.
  22. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    Savage Grace is simply hysterical: a film as harsh, brittle and unbalanced as its characters.
  23. 40
    You can almost smell the desperation in the twisted psychosexuality of Savage Grace.
  24. 40
    Proust might have known what to do with the Baekelands, but Mr. Kalin and Mr. Rodman don't make much more of them than the mess they apparently already were.
  25. 38
    For all its outré set pieces it never rises above the level of pretentious trash.
  26. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    A tawdry nighttime soap that marvels without insight at its characters' despicable behavior: It squanders a major performance by Moore.
  27. What Kalin fails to provide in the slightest degree is energy. The movie just sloshes along in a heavy, slightly overdone way.
  28. An unbroken flow of sad or nasty incidents.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 2 out of 5
  1. Oct 18, 2010
    Who said that evil is banal? Banality is the problem with this film which is technically well-made and cast with mesmerizing actors--especially the young ones; the son and the girlfriend and the son's lover. What motivates
    the mother? Why is her behavior so far off balance? Julianne Moore may have done better with a more filled out characterization. When the film began I immediately thought of a far more effective characterization of a borderline personality--Nancy in the film, "Sid and Nancy." And the film seriously underplays what has happened to the son--until the devasting finale. The real son, who this character was based on, in life, showed extreme behavioral signals, not just the enuie and lassitude we see here.
    Full Review »
  2. MichaelH
    Apr 11, 2009
    Movie could've been great if not for several major flaws. Clocking in at around 90 minutes, it was way too short to instill any story and could've benefited from at least another half hour of development. The story is very disjoint and events and characters are forgotten as suddenly as they were introduced. The movie is basically just a series of powerful scenes, all independent of each other however. Julianne Moore also plays pretty much the same thing she always plays. Fairly disappointing. Full Review »
  3. JayH
    Sep 18, 2008
    Julianne Moore is terrific as always, stylish, perhaps too much so. The art direction and costumes are great. The main problem with the film is that none of the characters are appealing. But, it's worth watching. Full Review »