Not Without My Daughter creeps up on you like an icy chill. Not since Midnight Express in 1978 has imprisonment in a foreign country been so alarmingly and intimately conveyed on film. [11 Jan 1991, p.69]
Field captures the sense of outrage to perfection, puffy-eyed, screaming and plotting escape. Appropriately enough, the film is strictly deglamorised; combined with the lack of sympathetic characters, it all adds up to difficult, compelling viewing as we're drawn into the deepening nightmare.
Time to get out your flood pants and economy-size Kleenex. Sally Field has the weepies again. But unlike the hoked-up waterworks that turned Field's Steel Magnolias into rust, Not Without My Daughter has an iron-clad plus going for it - harrowing reality. [11 Jan 1991, p.1D]
What's surprising about Not Without My Daughter (which was adapted from a book that Betty Mahmoody wrote with William Hoffer) is how effective it is despite its obvious shortcomings. As a conventional thriller along the lines of, say, a Mission: Impossible episode, the movie actually manages to be borderline entertaining. [11 Jan 1991, p.9]