Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life Reviews

  • It's really just a rambling episode of A Current Affair.

    Owen Gleiberman — Entertainment Weekly

  • The paradox of this film is that it is both unremittingly bleak and rigorously humane.

    A.O. Scott — New York Times

  • What could have been a well-aimed examination of the most troubling contradictions of capital punishment instead becomes a maudlin, unrestrained wallow.

    Ann Hornaday — Washington Post

  • The movie's an "In Cold Blood'' with a patient, persistent German interlocutor instead of Truman Capote turning cartwheels in prose.

    Ty Burr — Boston Globe

  • An egalitarian study of crime and punishment in a small Southern town, Into the Abyss is also an unmistakably Herzogian inquiry into the lawlessness of the human soul.

    Michelle Orange — Village Voice

  • Any subject Werner Herzog wants to explore is surely worthy of our interest. And his latest documentary is a characteristically insightful study of human nature.

    Elizabeth Weitzman — New York Daily News

  • You come out shaken by the fathomless destructiveness of idiocy and the healing powers of belief and remediation.

    David Denby — New Yorker

  • I've long felt Herzog's personality is compelling and penetrating, and in evidence I could offer this film about Texans who are so different from the West German director.

    Roger Ebert — Chicago Sun-Times

  • Not since Errol Morris' masterwork of investigative documentary, "The Thin Blue Line," has a filmmaker had such an easy time of making the death penalty-crazed state of Texas look quite so casually venal.

    Michael Phillips — Chicago Tribune

  • The title of this Werner Herzog documentary may suggest another expedition to the ends of the earth, but what concerns him here is the moral abyss of capital punishment and the metaphysical abyss of death itself.

    J. R. Jones — Chicago Reader

  • An inquiry into fundamental moral, philosophical, and religious issues, and an examination of humankind's capacity for violence - individual and institutional.

    Steven Rea — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • It's like a TV crime reality show made by an alien.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • The abyss here isn't capital punishment, the ostensible subject of the film; it's the seemingly unending capacity for causing and enduring pointless misery that humans seem to have.

    Tom Long — Detroit News

  • Herzog's investigation may not work as an anti-death-penalty editorial, but its findings are undeniably profound.

    Peter Debruge — Variety

  • Werner Herzog looks at the death penalty in "Into the Abyss," and as is almost always the case, to look through his eyes is to marvel.

    Kyle Smith — New York Post

  • Herzog is pursuing no agenda with Into the Abyss, despite his opposition to extreme judicial measures. He's seeking to answer the question of why people kill, especially in a situation such as this where the reason for the murders was so meaningless.

    Peter Howell — Toronto Star

  • (Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life movie review at Globe and Mail)

    Rick Groen — Globe and Mail

  • Watching Into the Abyss, I had the overwhelming sense that, somewhere along the way, Werner Herzog lost his way.

    James Berardinelli — ReelViews

  • A disquieting, heartbreaking look at American crime and punishment.

    Sheri Linden — Hollywood Reporter

  • Regardless of your own stance on the death penalty, it's impossible not to be shaken by the senseless loss depicted in "Into the Abyss," the overwhelming sadness, but also the possibility of spiritual redemption.

    Christy Lemire — Associated Press

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