Taking Sides


Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26

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Critic Reviews

  1. After a somewhat shaky start, the film gradually settles in to become another extraordinarily powerful and explosively acted drama that deftly probes the moral responsibility of an artist in a totalitarian society.
  2. 88
    Proves acutely subtle. But its question of what we forgive art in the face of atrocity and immorality is one for the ages.
  3. A rarity -- an intelligent and moving drama of ideas that becomes increasingly thrilling as the ideas unfold.
  4. Sparked by the actors' powerful performances, Arnold's moral absolutism and Furtwängler's lofty aestheticism make for a dramatically compelling clash.
  5. In compelling, suspenseful fashion, Taking Sides illuminates brilliantly the dilemma of a great, world-renowned artist flourishing in a totalitarian regime.
  6. Ronald Harwood's screenplay, based on his stage play, brings an impressive range of moral and political issues into play. The acting is also strong.
  7. 75
    The movie is both interesting and unsatisfying. The Keitel performance is over the top, inviting us to side with Furtwangler simply because his interrogator is so vile.
  8. 75
    This is courtroom drama at is best, especially when you listen to the sublime soundtrack.
  9. 75
    Compelling and superbly acted.
  10. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    The deep drawback of Taking Sides is that it forgets to be interested in music. [8 September 2003, p. 100]
  11. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Its soul rests in Skarsgard's performance, a powerful mixture of buttoned-down anger and personal disappointment that combines the filmmaker's self-questioning with the real-life character's conflict.
  12. 70
    Stellan Skarsgård's deceptively low-key performance as the beleaguered musician -- furtive, indignant, drowning in self-pity blended with a kind of ruined nobility -- pushes the emotional temperature to a quiet fever pitch.
  13. 70
    This dialectical drama has plenty of creaky moments, but Harvey Keitel compensates with a canny, surprising performance.
  14. Characters do little more than run around the same track incessantly, leaving us waiting for revelations that never arrive.
  15. 63
    A compelling look at a vexa tious question, Taking Sides is, at times, hamstrung by its own ambiguity.
  16. Taking Sides has a padded-out, stagebound quality that is anything but lyrical. And Szabó, a Hungarian best known for "Mephisto" and "Colonel Redl," is not at his best here.
  17. 60
    Flawed but fascinating.
  18. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Powerful, personal, but bombastic.
  19. 50
    Taking Sides is really no less simplistic than "Sunshine," but its predecessor succeeded because of its length and scope. Taking Sides stays rooted in one place and one discussion, and never gets anywhere.
  20. 50
    Be sure to stay for the coda, a damning piece of newsreel that casts much of what went before in a whole new light.
  21. Reviewed by: Laine Ewen
    The idea for the film is engaging and interesting, but the result is bland.
  22. We can almost hear the way he (Keitel) will speak a line before he speaks it. The triteness of the role and its performance, instead of dramatizing the contrast between this philistine and the artist, makes the confrontation between the two men a smug setup.
  23. Boy, can Harvey Keitel be bad -- and not bad like "Bad Lieutenant," bad like bad acting.
  24. The sides to consider in Taking Sides are all but obscured by cinematic pomposity at best, Holocaust porn at worst.
  25. The notions of the good man's complicity through inertia and of innocence tarnished by association are ones that have been more powerfully explored before.
  26. The movie's promise -- to provide a balanced argument -- goes unrealized, and all we're left with is the spectacle of an idiot bullying a genius.

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