Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 23
  2. Negative: 3 out of 23
  1. Mr. Sarsgaard gives the riskiest screen performance of his career. Save perhaps for Sean Penn's outbursts in "Dead Man Walking" and "Mystic River," no actor in a recent American film has delivered as explosive a depiction of a man emotionally blasted apart.
  2. 90
    A small, self-contained gem of incisive writing, superb acting and rich, expressive visuals.
  3. Has too many contrivances, but as an act of sinister staging, it proves Lucas, the noted playwright, to be a born filmmaker.
  4. Reviewed by: Bob Westal
    80
    The Dying Gaul is Craig Lucas's film directing debut, and it's impressive. The film never feels one bit like a stage adaptation.
  5. 80
    Lucas' beautiful script and a trio of first-rate performances carry the material with an intermittently breathtaking urgency.
  6. 75
    The actors could not be better. Sarsgaard, Scott and the luminous Clarkson negotiate the film's razor-sharp laughs and bone-deep tragedy with resonant skill. Lucas' powerfully haunting film gets under your skin.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    75
    The Dying Gaul stays interesting even when it asks more and more--too much, probably--of the audience's disbelief suspension.
  8. The Dying Gaul has the best kind of story in that it unfolds as a series of surprises, and yet every step, twist and turn seems inevitable in retrospect.
  9. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    Exchanging Buddhist mantras like diet tips, they thoughtlessly destroy themselves after destroying each other.
  10. This may be the best work we've seen from either actor, which is saying something.
  11. Before it disappears into a fog of confusion and damaging contradictions within its characters, The Dying Gaul presents an ironic, provocative look at what its creator, Craig Lucas, calls a postmodern Hollywood noir.
  12. 70
    If you cut through Lucas' thickets of self-reflexivity, metaphysical mumbo jumbo and banal potshots at media violence, there are three ace performances here by actors who can elevate and enliven even as mediocre a piece of material as this.
  13. 63
    It leads to one of those endings where you sit there wishing they'd tried a little harder to think up something better.
  14. 63
    The heavily symbolic The Dying Gaul doubtless worked better as a play, but the film is worth seeing for its peerless cast.
  15. 63
    The film builds into a lurid and suspenseful thriller.
  16. 60
    Entertaining if cornball, lacking the cold-eyed nastiness of something like Mike Nichols's "Closer," The Dying Gaul is tricked out with strident montage sequences and tremulous Steve Reich music. It's already drowning in an icky sea of language when Lucas makes a stretch for Greek tragedy and sends the whole Malibu playhouse abruptly crashing down.
  17. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    60
    Despite a reliable cast led by Scott, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard, the human impact is ultimately lost in a too calculated scenario.
  18. Takes itself awfully seriously. It feels a bit like a grudge piece, laboring to grasp at large themes, but it is as trivialized as the capricious world it explores.
  19. Does not go gentle into that good night.
  20. Although The Dying Gaul tries to evoke the pathos of Greek tragedy and the stars strive heroically, there's none of the requisite grandeur in this trio of creeps to make it worth caring what happens to them.
  21. These are three characters in search of a moral pulse.
  22. The Dying Gaul becomes so overwrought in the last act that it ends up as pure histrionics.
  23. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    30
    A sour little psychodrama.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. ChadShiira
    Oct 9, 2006
    6
    This film is the oddest thing. The three principal actors in "The Dying Gaul" play such appealing characters, but then they inexplicably stop being appealing after the set-up. The script starts to break down when the film makes its transition from a spot-on look at how Hollywood thinks to a psychological drama that has its talented actors trying to prove the old adage that people would pay good money just to see them read from a telephone book (in this case, their dialogue from a chat-room). [***SPOILERS***] Sometimes "The Dying Gaul" just doesn't make sense. In one scene, Robert (Peter Saarsgard) seems to have outed his tormentor, but in the next scene, he's caught off-guard and floored by a revelation we think is already established. When you get right down to it, Robert is pretty stupid, or rather; the screenplay made him that way. Robert gives his internet stalker pertinent information that could be used against him, in which he seems to have forgotten, when trying to identify the true identity of his chat-room poltergeist. This is a pity, because the opening scenes are almost as fun as Robert Altman's "The Player". Full Review »
  2. WayneB.
    Apr 12, 2006
    5
    An entrancing mess. Sarsgaard gives a shattering performance in an utterly senseless plot. There are so many logic leaps in the story that it becomes a pointless jumble wallowing in its own pretentiousness. But like a spectacular car wreck, you keep watching nonetheless. Sarsgaard will blow your mind. Full Review »
  3. RhettW.
    Dec 28, 2005
    6
    A very watchable movie with three totally captivating performances, but not totally satisfying.