Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21

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Critic Reviews

  1. Cornish's raw, nuanced performance and Shortland's sympathetic but unsentimental portrayal of Heidi's fumbling steps toward maturity are underscored by Sydney-based band Decoder Ring's catchy, angst-ridden score.
  2. 88
    Showcases a brilliantly realistic performance by Abbie Cornish as Heidi. She's a provocative mix of naivete and ripe, unbridled sexuality.
  3. With Somersault, filmmaker Cate Shortland has expertly served up a vivid and touching tale, one told many times before, but in this well-realized mounting, one that sparkles with fresh awareness.
  4. 80
    This remarkable film from Australia, the debut feature of writer-director Cate Shortland, moves to the lyrical rhythms and unhurried pace of a 1970s road movie.
  5. Dreamy and creepy, tender and terrifying, Somersault is a frank and visceral film that at the same time exudes an unexpected innocence.
  6. Somersault, which the Australian Film Institute garlanded with 13 awards, including best film, director, actor and actress (for Ms. Cornish's astonishing performance), is a movie about the looks on people's faces and the disparity between the surface and the roiling chaos beneath.
  7. 80
    Somersault faces the difficulty of representing a girl's unspoken desires and anxieties, a challenge Shortland rises to with terrific skill and aplomb.
  8. 80
    This beautifully understated feature (2004) revolves around sex, but it's neither erotic nor puritanical; its young characters are governed by their urges, but the experience itself seems as neutral and mysterious as sleep.
  9. 75
    Watching the Australian coming-of-age film Somersault is a little like watching a fluffy white bunny hop through a minefield, one tiny spring away from becoming tonight's rabbit stew.
  10. Shortland's script takes some unnecessary turns, mostly with Joe's drinking and sexual insecurities. But as long as it's focused on Heidi's predicament, it is riveting drama.
  11. The character can be a dolt, but Cornish is a marvel, exuding a reckless hunger and prowling with a sexuality of potent directness.
  12. Erotic, poetic and light on its feet. It's a portrayal of a runaway teenager's sexual initiation, and though it comes close to being exploitive, it keeps dancing away.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The movie has more style than depth and it's sometimes in danger of confusing the two.
  14. This is the kind of small filmmaking that leaves a big impression.
  15. 70
    Sexual compulsion accelerates adolescent angst in the arty Down Under drama, but while Shortland shows a notable eye for detail, her distracted approach to narrative and an attitude to her characters that's cold as the movie's snowfields make pic most likely to be embraced by serious-minded fest auds.
  16. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Shortland has announced her presence as a new filmmaker to be taken seriously, while her star, Abbie Cornish, gives a performance that starts impressively, and gets even better as it goes along.
  17. 70
    I'm sure some people will be driven mad by the deliberate ambiguities of Somersault, and by its characters' near-total inability to understand themselves or express themselves. But to me, that makes it uncannily true to life.
  18. The annoying shaky-cam style so common to such indie dramas is toned down to a dreamy sway and the image drifts in and out of focus in scenes of heightened emotions. It's like waking from a daze and getting your bearings; the effect is both unsettling and calming.
  19. Cornish, in her first film seen stateside, is astonishing.
  20. 50
    There are lots of ways to grow up. The method offered in this Australian drama is to do something awful and then flee from it.
  21. 50
    Director Shortland frames the story against the apt grey, off-season ski town, but her attempt to match it with deliberate pacing just makes the film feel chilly and too long, just like Heidi's depressing routine.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Aug 28, 2014
    A quirky, odd, yet strangely attractive movie about a girl who is looking for... something in entirely wrong places - and in the most curiousA quirky, odd, yet strangely attractive movie about a girl who is looking for... something in entirely wrong places - and in the most curious fashion - and a guy who definitely has issues, but I have no idea what those are.

    Besides one insanely awesome gay moment (yes, I'm easy to please), Sam Worthington totally stole my attention in this movie. Heidi's role was prominent, but also a bit strange, and I liked it how they gave Joe (Worthington) a lot of room to play his part in the story.

    Besides some strange relationship drama, this was a harsh approach into a woman's sexuality, I guess, and how wrong it can all go when one is seeking for closeness, affection or love. Not that I'm too sure about that because I never really caught the deep meaning of the story itself. I guess I need to watch this movie again some time and see if I can detect it then.

    The story moved steadily, but sometimes it seemed a bit aimless - just like Heidi's existence and attempts to connect with Joe, only to be rejected at times. She seemed almost out of it sometimes, but that gave the movie a bit of an artsy flavor as well. Joe remained a big mystery to me, really. He was there, he did his thing, he wanted to be there, and then he didn't. Maybe it was fear, of confusion, or a lack of knowledge about what he wanted. In a way that was also a rather real portrayal of a man's uncertainties and fears.

    Definitely worth one watch, and perhaps another as well. There's a good story there, albeit a bit confusing sometimes because it seems to drag while still moving forward. See for yourselves.
    Full Review »
  2. ChadS.
    Aug 21, 2006
    Heidi(Abbie Cornish) does slutty things, but she doesn't come off as being a slut. Heidil is carnivorous, and yet she projects a Heidi(Abbie Cornish) does slutty things, but she doesn't come off as being a slut. Heidil is carnivorous, and yet she projects a vulnerability that prevents the audience from turning on her. Even when the girl is at her sluttiest, or to put it more kindly, when Heidi is at the apex of her self-debasement, the potential eroticism of drug-addled promiscuity is neutralized by our recognition that this sex-bomb is largely unformed and hurting. "Sommersault" is like a cross between "Lolita" and "Ruby in Paradise". It's marred somewhat by an overabundance of nudity, and the filmmaker's insistence that Joe(Sam Worthington) is a figure compelling enough that warrants a breakaway from Heidi's narrative. Full Review »
  3. PallaviK.
    Jun 19, 2006
    Visually so powerful. Very moving. Just so.... lovely.