Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. A story that's startling, soulful and absolutely unforgettable.
  2. Who is Billy Bob Thornton? The question fascinates after seeing Sling Blade, the extraordinary first film that he wrote and directed and in which he plays the leading role. [Feb. 10, 1997]
  3. Reviewed by: Christopher Sharrett
    100
    Sling Blade is about a society barely holding on by its fingernails, the home and hearth hardly a place of respite. Unlike "The Ice Storm" or "The Sweet Hereafter," Sling Blade is devoid of the creature comforts of middle-class life that at least allow people the degraded hobbies that keep them functioning. [May, 1998]
  4. 100
    Like the eloquent, darkly funny dialogue, the film's characters, setting and cadences draw us into its world, with all its terrors and tenderness. What emerges is a masterpiece of Southern storytelling that draws a sharp line between good and evil.
  5. It's a beautiful contraption of a movie, a gothic backwoods fable that uses its naive yet murderous hero to walk a fine line between sentimentality and dread.
  6. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    90
    The lure of Sling Blade is both elemental and hauntingly familiar, and I would not be surprised if Thornton's breakthrough film is one day considered a classic in its own right.
  7. Perhaps the most remarkable thing here is Thornton's nuanced performance, but the film has other rare virtues: all the characters are fully and richly fleshed out (with some unexpected turns by John Ritter and singer Dwight Yoakam), and the story's construction is carefully measured.
  8. Catches you up so firmly in its world that you find yourself accepting whatever Thornton presents right up to its deeply ironic finish.
  9. Takes you down paths full of primitive, almost biblical implications, but it also finds comic relief in moments of palpable tension.
  10. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    90
    Sling Blade is perhaps the year's most impressive debut because it is an uncompromisingly told tale with a minimum of frills.
  11. Thornton, who wrote, directed, and stars in Sling Blade, has created an unforgettable character and situation, a film that's sure to become an American classic.
  12. 88
    There is pain, humor, irony and sweetness in the character, and a voice and manner so distinctive, he is the most memorable movie character I've seen in a long time.
  13. Reviewed by: Marc Caro
    88
    Resonates like the best of Southern fiction.
  14. Reviewed by: Richard T. Jameson
    87
    What evolves among them is a kind of realistic fairy tale, sustained by the sweet gravity and guttural, deadpan minimalism of Thornton's performance.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 74 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 37
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 37
  3. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Aug 24, 2013
    10
    A masterful script. Outstanding acting Thorton is spellbinding in the lead role. His opening scene is without doubt the best I've seen.ThisA masterful script. Outstanding acting Thorton is spellbinding in the lead role. His opening scene is without doubt the best I've seen.This is storytelling at its finest and directed with confidence, conviction and ease. Light and shade, humour and a fierce undercurrent of tension. To every film fan watch it now! Full Review »
  2. MsG
    Dec 24, 2006
    10
    As a mental health professional, Billy Bob's portrayal was excellent and moving. This story is all too common and realistic about people As a mental health professional, Billy Bob's portrayal was excellent and moving. This story is all too common and realistic about people in psychiatric hospitals, from Karl's character to the sadistic rapist in the hospital to Doyle's drunken abusiveness. Excellent portrayal of too common a life for many. Full Review »
  3. Jan 24, 2015
    10
    The acting of Billy Bob Thornton was of such a high standard that my only impression was (in the dark room with the journalist) was thatThe acting of Billy Bob Thornton was of such a high standard that my only impression was (in the dark room with the journalist) was that Billy Bob was born to act, no other gift was better expressed. The movie had me in tears, it was a subtle performance, it is a sophisticated performance it is a human tale of suffering and just being despite how the world tries to label Full Review »