Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
Watch On
  1. 100
    Los Angeles always seems to be waiting for something. Permanence seems out of reach; some great apocalyptic event is on the horizon, and people view the future tentatively. Robert Altman's Short Cuts captures that uneasiness perfectly.
  2. 88
    It's a genuine pleasure to find a movie with such a deep and intelligent portrayal of simple human lives, with all their minor triumphs and tragedies.
  3. 100
    Part of the miracle of Robert Altman's triumphantly fierce, funny, moving and innovative Short Cuts is that you can't get this movie out of your head. You keep playing it back to savor its formula-smashing audacity, its peerless performances and its cleareyed view of blasted lives.
  4. A daring but flawed achievement, diluting its emotional power and satirical bite with a self-consciously jagged structure, and a calculating, sometimes chilly untertone. [1 Oct 1993]
  5. 100
    A rich, unnerving film, as comic as it is astringent, that in its own quiet way works up a considerable emotional charge. [8 Oct 1993]
  6. The movie equivalent of a great read. It's a masterfully conducted concert of characters...already head and shoulders above most of the competition.
  7. Inevitably it's a mixed bag, though the film's assurance in keeping it all coherent is at times exhilarating.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    Exploding Raymond Carver's spare stories and minimally drawn characters onto the screen with startling imagination, Robert Altman has made his most complex and full-bodied human comedy since "Nashville."
  9. Altman shakes the camera like a two-bit horror director, and it seems a different sort of signature - less masterful than weary, less signed than resigned. Zero-sum, indeed.
  10. Some movies can lay claim to being the best thing around in a week, a month, a year. Robert Altman's Short Cuts is closer to being one of the all-time bests, among the finest American films since the advent of sound. [22 Oct 1993]
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    This definitive "life goes on" movie does what Altman does best: juggle 22 characters, deftly switch moods, and offer a comlex warts-and-all characters whose lives seem to extend beyond the screen. Few movies attempt this; Fewer succeed. [1 Oct 1993]
  12. 20
    A cynical, sexist and shallow work from cinema's premier misanthrope, Robert Altman, who here shows neither compassion for -- nor insight into -- the human condition.
  13. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    100
    It is, finally, as a richly pulsating, hugely entertaining human comedy -- antic, wayward, glancing -- that Short Cuts bemuses, amuses and finally entrances us. [4 Oct 1993]
  14. To read a Carver collection is to walk through a gallery of beautifully formed objects. To blend his stories into "soup," no matter how smartly, to see them "as just one story," is to vandalize good art, to rationalize filmic opportunism as aesthetic principle. [25 Oct 1993]
  15. It's compelling, emotionally exhausting terrain, and Altman delivers it in cold, blunt strokes. [22 Oct 1993]
  16. It raises the spirits not by phony sentimentality but by the amplitude of its art. From time to time, it is also roaringly funny... A terrific movie. [1 Oct 1993, p.C1]
  17. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    80
    Altman lucked out when he cast a singer, Ronee Blakley, in a major role in "Nashville," but he has not been as fortunate here with Annie Ross and Lyle Lovett, who lack Blakley's soulful dramatic presence.
  18. Extraordinary...The movie has the intensity of an epic, only its subject matter is everyday life. [19 Oct 1993, p.A18(E)]
  19. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    At first, it's hard to sort out who knows who and where the stories connect, but it eventually comes together, combining the gripping power of a soap opera with the skewed, unusual perspectives of Carver and Altman.
  20. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    70
    Quirky, sometimes brilliant, and mostly ice-cold.
  21. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    89
    Carver's stories are obviously inspiring for Altman, and that's the point, this movie is bursting at the seams with ideas and energy.
  22. Reviewed by: Terrence Rafferty
    50
    The correspondences he wants us to see from up there start to look contrived, illusory. [27 Sept 1993, p.98]
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 11
  2. Negative: 2 out of 11
  1. Feb 4, 2015
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Tripping Over Ourselves

    While there's no cinematic equivalent to the Mona Lisa, I submit a list of the top ten American movies of the last 50 years in no particular order:

    The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Pulp Fiction, Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mulholland Drive, Tree of Life, Boyhood, Short Cuts.

    Whaaaaaa... Short Cuts? Is it even Altman's best work? Well, everything unique and original in the other movies on this list was done before... by Altman. (Is there anything the man hasn't tried?) And everything Altman achieved in his career can be summed up in Short Cuts.

    Five of the entries on my list are genre intact: gangster, war, bio, sci-fi, adventure. Lynch is a genre of his own (a master of hook and subvert), Pulp Fiction is pomo-noir with a swagger, Tree of Life, an audacious and transcendent poem, Boyhood, literally an epic achievement of dedication and commitment. Short Cuts doesn't seem to fit in as it is merely an observation of lives and love. But what observations! What lives! What heartbreaking affection. All underscored with a resonating heartbeat patching into so many paths, teetering on the brink of disaster and threatening to explode, which it does, in the form of a climactic planetary stroke. Nothing brings people together quite like a natural disaster. An earthquake, tremoring just enough to inform us of our place in history on the cosmic map. Enough to bring us down to earth, reboot our egos, and put multiple perspectives in perspective. Enough to appreciate the simple state of being.

    A larger-than-life baroque master is at the helm, warbling out contrapuntal narratives and swirling themes orchestrated to perfection. Multiple story-lines wavering under one very singular umbrella. And under Altman's protective cover the talent runs free and easy, playful and experimental, ironic and sincere. The key characters in one story become walk-throughs in another, paradoxically tethered and disconnected from the self, from family, community, and life. Boundaries are crossed and souls get lost. We're all the same if only by not knowing what our needs are or why we're even here. With nothing to say except everything is exceptional, infinite and empty. And life is short. Shorts Cuts of scenes stories words actions desire love loss lies lust faith wonder and devotion. Heck, I'd see it again only to watch Tom Waits and Lily Tomlin shack up.

    Some movies claim to be infinitely entertaining, some maintain they can be viewed repeatedly without losing their initial charm, some insist they never age, I know only one that can lay claim to all such conceits. Short Cuts is like falling in love. It delivers quietly, wonderfully, naturally, tenderly, simply and deeply.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 1, 2012
    10
    Sure many of the characters in "Short Cuts" are bad people, but that doesn't stop this ensemble film from being creative, funny, and tragic,Sure many of the characters in "Short Cuts" are bad people, but that doesn't stop this ensemble film from being creative, funny, and tragic, all at once. Robert Altman is the man to go to for films like this, and if "Nashville" left you stunned, "Short Cuts" will live your mouth open. He connects these characters, all portrayed excellently by the stunning cast, in such genius ways, and the stories themselves are all unique in some way or another. With standout performances from Andie MacDowell, Tim Robbins, and Julianne Moore, "Short Cuts" is one of my favorite films from the '90's. Full Review »
  3. Nov 2, 2010
    10
    I love this movie. It's a truly magnificent piece of art, and it changed the way I thought about movies. Perhaps it isn't everyone's cup ofI love this movie. It's a truly magnificent piece of art, and it changed the way I thought about movies. Perhaps it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you enjoy challenging, thought-provoking cinema, you must give yourself a chance to savor this masterpiece. Full Review »