• Studio:
  • Release Date: Nov 8, 2013
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Nov 8, 2013
    70
    The false notes are outnumbered by those that ring achingly true.
  2. Reviewed by: Bill Zwecker
    Nov 8, 2013
    75
    This well-crafted picture is a lovely work of true art, enhanced by terrific animated sequences illustrating Jerry Lee’s love of drawing cartoons and Frank’s ability to concoct tales of the brothers as heroic figures.
  3. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Mar 31, 2014
    80
    Powerful, moving and melancholy. A low-key treat.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Nov 7, 2013
    60
    The feature spikes its lonesome mood with shots of dry humor, animated sequences and flashbacks — at times overplaying its hand, even as Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff wordlessly convey all that needs to be said.
  5. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    Unlike most pictures about people living on the fringe, The Motel Life is never drab or depressing.
  6. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Nov 7, 2013
    60
    While this gritty indie is light on plot, the world of bars, casinos, hospitals and gallows humor is real and heartbreaking.
  7. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    Not surprisingly in this tale of desperate men, the only women are top-heavy cartoon characters — literally, animated sequences illustrate Frank’s stories — or live-action betrayers, like Dakota Fanning’s Annie, Frank’s ex-girlfriend. I found the cartoons more interesting.
  8. Reviewed by: Jamie S. Rich
    Nov 5, 2013
    75
    Hirsch gives a finely tuned performance, almost absent of technique or self-consciousness, which dovetails nicely with Dorff's more expressive, method approach.
  9. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Nov 8, 2013
    88
    The directors and the cast, through a miracle of tone, mood, and emotion, have made a film that feels true, that is sweet and sharp and unbearable. Every frame feels right, every choice feels thought-out, considered. All adds up to a heartbreaking whole.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    Hirsch opens his heart to the role. And Dorff, matching the depth of feeling he showed in Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere," excels at digging deep into Jerry Lee's pain.
  11. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 7, 2013
    25
    As good as The Motel Life is for the actors, that's how bad it is for the viewer.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Nov 6, 2013
    60
    What is successful, and suggests a promising future for the Polsky brothers as directors, is the film’s central relationship, which never feels less than genuine.
  13. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Nov 11, 2013
    70
    The central performances by Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff hold the film together with the intensity of their brotherly affection and support.
  14. Reviewed by: Andy Webster
    Nov 7, 2013
    70
    The story may be slight, but the performances and ambience resonate.
  15. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Nov 6, 2013
    83
    While it doesn't reinvent the wheel, or revolutionize the genre, it achieves its modest ambitions affectingly well, in no small part due to a clutch of cherishable performances, especially from leads Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff.
  16. Reviewed by: Boyd van Hoeij
    Nov 11, 2013
    50
    So full of explanatory flashbacks and animated sequences visualizing the characters’ invented yarns that their real dramas are indeed almost obscured.
  17. Reviewed by: Zachary Wigon
    Nov 5, 2013
    40
    The Motel Life too often revisits the same emotions and sentiments, leaving us with a portrait that feels frustratingly simple.
  18. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    It's admirable and even memorable, in its moody fashion, thanks to Roman Vasyanov's richly textured cinematography — he's a shooter to keep our eyes on — and three affecting performances.
  19. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    For all its melancholy and grey, snowy landscape, The Motel Life never feels totally hopeless, thanks in large part to colorful ancillary characters (not to mention occasional trips into Frank’s mind).
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jun 24, 2014
    10
    A tragic story of two brothers - drunk, drifting along, and determined to distract themselves from their lives, both present and past. The animation, making the harsh realities of these men almost dream-like, brings to life this drunken journey in an icy and isolating environment. Full Review »
  2. Feb 25, 2014
    10
    A really great performance from the actors! Emile Hirsch and Kris Kristofferson jump off the screen with their powerful performances. Not to mention the visuals are gorgeous. A really strong directorial debut from the Polsky Brothers. I look forward to seeing what else they come out with in the future! Full Review »