• Studio:
  • Release Date:
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Summary: Based on the popular novel by Willy Vlautin, The Motel Life is a searing and profound examination of brotherhood set in the timeless Sierra Nevadan frontier. Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee Flannigan (Stephen Dorff) work odd jobs, drink hard, and drift from motel to motel. Their only escape is through Frankâ Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Mar 31, 2014
    80
    Powerful, moving and melancholy. A low-key treat.
  3. 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).
  4. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Nov 8, 2013
    70
    The false notes are outnumbered by those that ring achingly true.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. 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! Collapse
  2. 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. Expand

Trailers