Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 27
  2. Negative: 1 out of 27
  1. It's impossible to shake the feeling that these are merely actors -- albeit good ones.
  2. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    A grand, dark, grave, severe piece of first-rate cinema.
  3. Reviewed by: Fred Camper
    Bosnian-born director Emir Kusturica delivers a superb performance as the prisoner, a brutish cipher who gradually reveals his humanity, and the delicate lighting often produces silhouetted faces that evoke the ultimate incomprehensibility of human emotion.
  4. 100
    A beautiful and haunting film that tells this story, and then tells another subterranean story about the seasons of a marriage.
  5. Has the resonance, eloquence and formal rigor of a piece of great literature.
  6. Leconte reconfirms his growing importance to French cinema with this precisely crafted, marvelously acted drama, which makes a powerful statement on capital punishment.
  7. The subtle selectivity of Leconte's eye, how he moves with great control from gesture to gesture, is matched by the disciplined intensity of the performances.
  8. 80
    Definitely worth a chance: although everyone in this fog-shrouded setting makes grand sacrifices, all you'll lose are a few tears.
  9. 50
    As stunning to look at as "Girl on the Bridge" or indeed any of his others, but it lacks the distilled intensity — and, surprisingly for Leconte, the wit.
  10. Faraldo's most engrossing and inventive script, alternately serious and comic, is beautifully realized by Binoche, Auteuil and Kusturica, all of whom reveal a nobility of spirit and stylish gallantry so cherished by the French.
  11. 75
    Celebrates a larger-than-life heroism that is, sadly, all too rare.
  12. 63
    Accomplished, middlebrow costume-drama entertainment. It's not so simple that it could be mistaken for the work of, say, Lasse Hallström, and yet it's not so sophisticated that audiences of "Chocolat" would be mystified.
  13. It doesn't get much more romantic than this.
  14. Leconte films in an austere yet invigorated style; the action never settles into stiff tableaux.
  15. 75
    Has its sluggish stretches, but the superb level of acting is more than ample compensation.
  16. Remarkable movie.
  17. 91
    Leconte's signature on the film alone makes it worth seeing.
  18. 30
    It's not badly made, but it's a drag. Leconte's virtues can't overcome the plodding glumness that prevails.
  19. The director has concocted a tragedy that actually feels tragic.
  20. Ppaque and not hugely satisfying.
  21. Mr. Leconte seems at last to have anchored his cinematic gifts to a story worth caring about.
  22. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Binoche is especially subtle and radiant in another splendid drama from Leconte.
  23. Reviewed by: Steve Simels
    A genuinely heartbreaking, romantic film based on a true story; frankly, if it doesn't make you cry, we don't want to know you.
  24. 50
    Far from terrible, Leconte's latest movie suggests the work of a slightly hip preacher.
  25. For the director, Mr. Leconte, and for the usually volcanic Mr. Auteuil, the quiet, cumulative power of this film is a striking departure from the dazzling energy of their previous collaboration in "Girl on the Bridge."
  26. It's a kind of 18th-century "Dead Man Walking" but with that earlier film's foreground arguments against capital punishment pushed to the background here.
  27. 80
    A compelling French Canadian drama.

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