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89

Universal acclaim - based on 20 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

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  • Summary: In the tiny town of Williston, North Dakota, tens of thousands of unemployed hopefuls show up with dreams of honest work and a big paycheck under the lure of the oil boom. However, busloads of newcomers chasing a broken American Dream step into the stark reality of slim work prospects andIn the tiny town of Williston, North Dakota, tens of thousands of unemployed hopefuls show up with dreams of honest work and a big paycheck under the lure of the oil boom. However, busloads of newcomers chasing a broken American Dream step into the stark reality of slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep. The town lacks the infrastructure to house the overflow of migrants, even for those who do find gainful employment. Over at Concordia Lutheran Church, Pastor Jay Reinke is driven to deliver the migrants some dignity. Night after night, he converts his church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center, opening the church’s doors to allow the “Overnighters” (as he calls them) to stay for a night, a week or longer. [Drafthouse Films] Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Nov 6, 2014
    100
    Through patience, skill, discretion, and trust, Jesse Moss has taken a seemingly small town story and turned it into both a microcosm of today’s most urgent issues and a portrait of a single suffering soul.
  2. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Oct 7, 2014
    100
    Jesse Moss's documentary The Overnighters is a heart-wrencher about the clash between economics and ethics. Its story sounds like the sort of dry news blurb you'd skim over in the Sunday paper but unfolds into an epic tragedy.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Oct 31, 2014
    91
    Jesse Moss’s documentary The Overnighters is being hailed as a modern-day “Grapes of Wrath,” which, up to a point, it is. But it’s far more complicated than that.
  4. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jan 27, 2014
    90
    Lensed with a complete absence of frills that perfectly suits its honest, unvarnished tone, The Overnighters presents an indelible snapshot of a despairing moment in American history, as men abandon homes, families and dreams to stake their claim in an ever-shrinking land of opportunity.
  5. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Nov 13, 2014
    88
    The Overnighters is commendable for many reasons, not the least of which is the way it allows complex issues to remain complex.
  6. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Oct 10, 2014
    88
    While The Overnighters has the feel of an epic, given what an expansive slice of America’s current economic experience it ponders, it’s also a very intimate one.
  7. Reviewed by: Clayton Dillard
    Oct 5, 2014
    63
    If it ultimately can't reconcile all that's presented in its too-brief runtime, that's largely because its situation, much like the dissonance between those involved, is comprehensibly irresolvable.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Feb 10, 2015
    10
    How Christian is too Christian? At what point does being a good person stop--and being reckless start? These are a couple of questions thatHow Christian is too Christian? At what point does being a good person stop--and being reckless start? These are a couple of questions that Jesse Moss' new documentary asks. To its credit--I don't think it really tries to answer them. These are questions that we each must answer in our own heart. A Lutheran Pastor in the film named Jay Reinke opens up his life, his home, and his family to the camera and it's our job to just watch and ponder for ourselves. It's also a brutal film about an America that isn't quite sure who it is at its core. One of the best documentaries ever made in my opinion. Expand
  2. Nov 11, 2014
    9
    I saw this film at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. It's one of the best verite documentaries I've ever seen. It's deep, touches more than aI saw this film at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. It's one of the best verite documentaries I've ever seen. It's deep, touches more than a few cultural issues elements, and is extremely timely in its message. Loved it. Expand
  3. Oct 22, 2014
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The director and main figure (the pastor) in the film showed a near-sociopathic indifference to the dignity and humanity of the wife of the pastor. Both of these parties arranged to film the pastor's wife while she was told something devastating to her, to her marriage, and to her three sensitive and intelligent children. This is profoundly inhuman. How rich that the pastor tried to reduce the import of that disclosure by saying "I realize I've put you in a difficult spot." Spot? How about landscape, or abyss? Even given that a perceptive audience member might discern all along that the pastor's disclosure would have to be in the stars, whether on-screen or off, the wife of the pastor was, on some important level, completely taken aback and devastated by this FILMED disclosure. Both the pastor and the filmmaker *arranged* to surprise her in this way--whatever can be claimed about releases that she may subsequently have signed. Her signing a release does not mitigate the wrongness of filming her in the first place! We have all run across people like the pastor in the film, people who mysteriously position themselves as the "central character" in a church, a family, or a film--people who, like a slowly subtly sinking ship, are willing and able to sink all associated other-humans in their spiraling wake. The pastor suffered greatly, had many good qualities, and was at least discernible as questioning his own actions and motives, even if doing so was typically intertwined with grandiosity. But the *filmmaker* could have refused to engage in the dehumanizing and unethical act of surprise-*filming* this pastor's devastating disclosure to his wife. Instead, the filmmaker seemed inspired to engage in the same sort of sociopathy exhibited by the main "character"-- as if indulging one's hunger for success and attention trumped all human obligation. The result is a bad film (when a strong film could have been made of the project). Sometimes it doesn't pay, on any level, to act unethically. Expand

See all 4 User Reviews

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