Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 73 Ratings

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  • Summary: A documentary in which former Indonesian death squad leaders reenact their real-life mass-killings in various cinematic genres.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Sep 13, 2013
    The Act of Killing is exemplary as a history lesson, a character study and a powerful argument for confronting the past.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 25, 2013
    This feature-length documentary, currently entering national release, may be one of the most horrifying films you'll ever see, and one of the most edifying.
  3. Reviewed by: Janice Page
    Aug 3, 2013
    The Act of Killing is one of the most extraordinary films you’ll ever encounter, not to mention one of the craziest filmmaking concepts anywhere.
  4. 90
    The resulting film is bizarre to the point of ­trippiness, yet it’s one of the most lucid portraits of evil I’ve ever seen.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 1, 2013
    The Act of Killing is a horrifying film, a surreal experience that explores the limits of human cruelty. It’s a film that is absolutely hard to watch. It’s also a film that absolutely should be seen.
  6. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jul 18, 2013
    Among the most profound, formally complex, and emotionally overpowering documentaries I’ve ever seen. It’s also, by turns and sometimes at once, luridly seductive and darkly comic and physically revolting — a movie that makes you want to laugh and cry and retch and run out of the theater, both to escape the awful things the film is showing you and to tell everyone you know that they need to see it, too.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jul 26, 2013
    The effect is intended to be ghastly – which it certainly is – but I was equally repelled by this film’s conceit. Oppenheimer allows murderous thugs free rein to preen their atrocities, and then fobs it all off as some kind of exalted art thing. This is more than an aesthetic crime; it’s a moral crime.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 10
  2. Negative: 2 out of 10
  1. Feb 17, 2014
    Great documentary. Shows the twisted state of morality in the mind of all the killers like never before in the cinema. The question how some human can do it has been answered by an intelligent concept. Expand
  2. Jul 29, 2013
    Terrific and mind bending experience,the experiences of this poor man and the banality of evil, that is the reason for make it a masterpiece and one of the best documentaries of all time Expand
  3. Sep 8, 2013
    This movie is a great documentary. Disturbing and surreal in equal measure. Watching these psychopaths brag about their atrocities makes me upset, But this movie is about a lot more than the genocide that occurred in 1965. It shows how America has contributed to these murders through culture and financial aid. Exposed as well is the amount of corruption and political oppression around every turn in Indonesia.
    To the person who gave a negative review: a documentary is supposed show the truth. I am surmising the best way for the filmmaker to have these murderers open up like this was to to make them believe that they were being celebrated in a way. Since this documentary gave you such a strong reaction proves that it is excellent. If you can't look at the truth you shouldn't watch a movie like this and give it a 2. I thought your observations were spot on but I guess you can't handle the truth as Jack Nicholson once said.
  4. Sep 11, 2013
    During the 60s death squads murdered more than a million Communists in the Indonesian purge. This doc spends time with several of the prominent killers. In conversation and chilling staged reenactments, they unapologetically recount their methods. The pacing lags when there's too much talk, but the "acts" and the final scenes are dramatically powerful. (Subtitles) Expand
  5. Feb 15, 2014
    The documentary was told from the perspective of ex Indonesian gangster Anwar Congo. His atrocity during 1965 military ruling where he was only a selling black market movie tickets before becoming a notorious gangster. This movie follows when he and his ex partners begin to remember his past incidents.

    I was uncomfortable throughout. I felt it was disturbing in many parts. Actually, they won't show any cruel stuffs in raw form than just an interview. Now and then they perform to explain us the real act and it becomes 'The Act of Killing'.

    This movie largely received critical acclaim. But my stance is just opposite to it because I hated almost all the character from the movie for what they did. Still a good documentary about what most of us was unaware of the real story. Because of this movie we come to know the dark secrets.

    These people tell their hidden secrets and feel what they did was an unforgivable sin. They came from lower class and they did it for good living. Suppose if they did not, someone would have done it. Many are backed off from the interview in the middle of the documentary, but Anwar Congo stayed till the end to give his side story.

    The director should be appreciated for his effort. He took nearly a decade to make this film. It is obvious that in the end he was confused over how to wrap it, but somehow he managed to do so. The most favourite to win Oscar. I am not in favour of this movie to win because it was told from cruel people and their dirty works. If you hear the same story from the innocent victim's perspective that would melt you emotionally.
  6. Jan 16, 2014
    The Act of Killing has some of the most horrific things humans can do to each other but in the end what was the point? All these men are still walking free and no punishments have be taken against them. The movie just revisits the past without dealing with the now. As a movie, its too long and has an ending that is unintentionally funny. Expand
  7. Sep 11, 2013
    Going into The Act of Killing I expected to be shocked and appalled and I was but not for the reasons I imagined. A fearless look at a group of people alive today and their inner most thoughts about a dark time in Indonesian history. The kicker? These people are monsters and director Joshua Oppenheimer is unfortunately giving them a voice. The film follows Oppenheimer as he interviews a group of Indonesian death squad executioners responsible for the mass communist genocide that took place in 1965, a horrific period in Indonesian history carried out by these so called subjects. The film is crass and lacks any kind of remorse as it ridicules the children of those who died, shows the wonderful lives that these killers now have and glorifies an action that took over a million lives. The Act of Killing is a disgraceful picture designed to disturb as to inspire action. However Oppenheimer must know the futility of his struggle and the inevitability of his failure so his creation of this rubbish only serves to entertain his interviewees. Not only does the film give them a pulpit to shout out their propaganda but it also treats it all as alright, a necessary evil. The Act of Killing breaks the cardinal rule of documentary film making, it doesn't have anything in it worth telling the rest of the world, it doesn't have a purpose beyond mocking the dead. Collapse

See all 10 User Reviews


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