“Despite Meek's Cutoff Being A Hilarious Reference To The Film's Unresolved Ending, Kelly Reichardt Has Crafted The Most Original Western Ever In Her Surreal Depiction Of Frontier Life On The Oregon Trail.”
“Not Your Granddaddy's Western: A Slow, Methodical Recreation Of Life On The Oregon Trail.”
Under Oregon skies, there's political subtext for the taking in this terrific, unsettling film.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
A bracingly original foray into territory that remains, in every sense, unsettled.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
It enlivens and illuminates a genre that once dominated the American cinema and still holds a considerable grip on our imagination.
Philip French - Guardian [UK]
Kelly Reichardt's gaunt, mysterious and superbly calibrated movie about pioneers and the old American west appears to have come from another age - from the early days of Malick or Antonioni.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
A mesmerizing cinematic journey that is often as arduous and spare as the lives of its hard-bitten protagonists.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
Told largely in long shot, it's a painfully, beautifully slow film, which is understandable given the time, place, and situation.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Recalls Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man and even Werner Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God in its evocation of frontier surrealism and manifest-destiny madness; the Reichardt approach is, however, more stringent and pointed in its weirdness.
J. Hoberman - Village Voice
Fans of Kelly Reichardt's minimalist portraits will adore her stark Western, but others may be taken aback by the bold lack of traditional filmmaking.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
Amounts to a master class in the power of observation.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
A cinematic immersion of both modest and cosmic proportions, beautifully enacted by a cast that makes you fully believe that they are these beleaguered characters, and make you glad that you aren't.
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
Reichardt's westward-ho is a world of confusion, geographical and moral, a dislocation beyond the remedy of water or Bibles.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
It's a pleasureless, anti-sensuous aesthetic, but the movie, in its thorny, grudging way, is stirring, with many startling details.
David Denby - New Yorker
"Meek's Cutoff" is more an experience than a story.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
If you allow its windswept silences to work on you, "Meek's Cutoff" gathers its own snakelike sense of momentum...
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Imagine a collaboration between John Ford and Wallace Stevens and you might get a sense of what Kelly Reichardt pulls off here: a sincere re-creation of the pioneer experience, brought to life through careful, often unexpected detail.
Ben Sachs - Chicago Reader
The cinematography, by Chris Blauvelt, captures the rugged landscapes and rainless skies with a homespun elegance.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
Reichardt serves the broccoli of historical pedantry, deliberately withholding the delicious cheese sauce of entertainment.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
This is the sort of film critics love to praise because the filmmaker has done good work before; and well, there must be something there. Well, there's not.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Greatly enhanced by the performances of Michelle Williams and Bruce Greenwood, director Kelly Reichardt's film quietly becomes engrossing - it almost sneaks up on you.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Who goes to the movies for 104 minutes of punishment? Where is John Wayne, now that we need him?
Rex Reed - New York Observer
[Kelly Reichardt has] taken on her biggest budget (essentially a thicker shoestring) and most recognizable cast yet, while fully retaining her patient, deliberate approach to narrative and attentiveness to nature as a character.
Justin Chang - Variety
Without exception, the actors give understated but compelling performances.
V.A. Musetto - New York Post
It's the anti-western western, a story stripped of Zane Gray romance, sagebrush and mythic heroes.
Linda Barnard - Toronto Star
Upgrading her production values without compromising her minimalist style, Kelly Reichardt has nonetheless made her most accessible movie.
Eric Kohn - indieWIRE
A film ponderously slow in pace yet kinetically charged with insight; starkly realistic yet allegorical too; psychologically astute yet politically resonant.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
In this quiet, beautiful and terrifying fable about a group of lost pioneers, Reichardt combines epic ambition with a focus on intimate, personal detail.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
Meek's Cutoff is also the least successful of the Reichardt films I've seen, but even with its flaws, this stripped-down feminist Western feels like necessary viewing and a harbinger of potentially great things to come.
Dana Stevens - Slate
It is an American independent in the true sense of the word, and it may well be the best homegrown movie we'll see this year.
Elbert Ventura - Slate
A realistic slice of pioneer life that offers a disquieting alternative vision of America's most mythic location.
Deborah Young - Hollywood Reporter
Reichardt trusts her audience, encourages her viewers to feel comfortable in the stillness and the quiet, and to draw their own conclusions from an ending that's as profound as it is enigmatic.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
It's a deceptively small piece of onscreen art that resonates afterward with such insistence that I felt positively nagged by it.
Mary F. Pols - TIME Magazine
Kelly Reichardt has crafted a haunted dream of a movie to get lost in.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
Reichardt has stripped "Meek's" down to bare essentials and careful emotions. The cast captures that quality beautifully - like the water that is running out, everything is conserved.
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
The film is both evocative and provocative; atmospherically and conceptually, respectively.
Dan Jardine - Cinemania
- Sight and Sound
I rarely feel the heart-in-my-throat suspense that I felt as Reichardt's characters sent a covered wagon down a steep hill ...
Jeffrey Overstreet - Filmwell
A better complement than 'The Big Trail' would be 'The Blair Witch Project,' another film that taps into an American unease with the wilderness that is the shadow twin of the country's bold sense of manifest destiny.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
I felt like I was trapped on a slow-moving wagon train to nowhere with a bunch of people I wanted to escape from.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Offbeat and most interesting western about emigrant pioneers lost in the prairie.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
... a primal piece of filmmaking, wrought from dirt and rock, calico and splintered wood, and illuminated by natural light and campfire.
Sean Axmaker - Parallax View
Be warned. Some stretches are almost as much of a slog for the viewer as they are for the pioneers... But Meek's Cutoff conveys a far more realistic account of what life was really like on the frontier trail than John Wayne or Clint Eastwood ever did.
Jason Best - Movie Talk
- National Post
This is a film where life and death decisions are made at every turn; where the very concepts of religion and humanity are dissected in gorgeously subtle yet devastating ways.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
Kelly Reichardt's extremely modest film is slow, but it is also intriguing, moving and meaningful.
CJ Johnson - ABC Radio (Australia)
May well be truer to what the migration west was like for many settlers than Hollywood's romanticized and sanitized version of such stories.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Michelle Williams is now the only Dawson's Creek cast member with a chat-worthy film career.
Jim Schembri - The Age (Australia)
Jeffrey Overstreet - Looking Closer
"Meek's Cutoff" works wonders even if you don't buy the political metaphor, instead appreciating the film as a historical survival tale and a meditation on the nature of trust - how others win it from us and why we give it to them.
Rob Thomas - Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Exhausting and ambiguous, it's for moviegoers who relish a quiet, arduous chronicle of bleak hardship, seemingly portrayed in real time.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Sparse, uncompromising and bewitching. Reichardt has stripped back all but the bare essentials, scattering the characters across the sun-bleached landscape like marbles.
Clem Bastow - The Vine
By privileging the dynamics between the characters over story, Reichardt has created an extremely rewarding cinematic experience that is rich in political commentary, pathos and visual beauty.
Thomas Caldwell - Cinema Autopsy
It will definitely divide audiences. Some may find it a graceful and understated master class in observation. Others may be put to sleep.
Keith Cohen - Entertainment Spectrum
Yes, it's sharply shot, and its stark realism is refreshing. But Meek's Cutoff never gets anywhere.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
[Rides] a thin line between the intangibly graceful and the merely frustrating in its rejection of narrativity.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
There are stretches that are, frankly, boring. But the vivid details and intimacy you develop with these travelers sticks with you, leaving you in awe of the insane feats people had to accomplish in order for us to enjoy the world we know today.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
The subtle ways in which Reichardt explores how these characters have been playing their socially and religiously assigned parts throughout the movie, and likely their entire lives, is the core of an absolute masterpiece.
Ian Buckwalter - DCist
If there's a genre even more suited to political allegory than horror, it's the Western. And if you can make it through this grim, grimy wide-open-space odyssey without thinking of Iraq then it's because you're not thinking hard enough.
Dave White - Movies.com
returns to the craft of the deconstructionist western, ...stripped bare of the mythmaking, shiny spurs and hero worship, leaving a reality so stark it makes the Coen brothers' harsh take on True Grit seem like an episode of Gunsmoke.
Corey Hall - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
A promising, intermittently entrancing film that the viewer wishes could have made more of an impact than it does.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
We watch them trudge for miles, growing tired of listening to the squeaky wheel of a wagon.
Roz Laws - Birmingham Post
Those with the courage to explore uncharted territory will be rewarded with a rough gem of a movie.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Thanks to brilliant directorial decisions matched by a cast that was clearly inspired by this unique effort, this will surely be one of the most memorable films of 2011.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com
An existential nightmare of maddening uncertainty, a notion only emphasized by Reichardt’s commitment to ambiguity.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
Whatever allegory of pre-feminist roles that Reichardt hopes to achieve is slowly put to sleep along with the rest of the audience with a less-is-less narrative style that, like Meek, is too stubborn to realize how lost it is.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
Stripped of Hollywood embellishment, Meek's Cutoff examines issues of leadership, trust and 'the other' in ways that suggest it could be taken as a metaphor for the American way of thought, then or now. Well, maybe that's just us.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
Meek's Cutoff, certainly a deliberate title for a story touching on fear of the unknown, is the human experience stripped to its bones.
Matt Pais - RedEye
Of Time and Place: An Interview with John Raymond on Meek's Cutoff
Matthew Sorrento - Bright Lights Film Journal
Demanding, ultimately mesmerizing variation on an antique theme wanders off into a wilderness of its own where the essential stoic loneliness of what we call the American character comes into focus.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
I guarantee you that, in a decade or two, it will be regarded as an enduring film classic.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
This revisionist Western -- intellectually, aesthetically, and narratively absorbing -- rattles to the bone, but never quite rends the heart.
Kimberley Jones - Austin Chronicle
The movie gives thoughtful viewers plenty to ponder, and plenty of situations in the story have two right answers, but no definitive one.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Common Sense Media
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
This is the arid equivalent of Werner Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God. Reichardt offers the minimum of genre conventions and none of the genre's satisfactions or resolutions.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
"Meek's Cutoff" is earnest and sober to the point of suffocation, which often happens when the decision is made to shut off the air of entertainment.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Vast and mysterious, the American West of Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond's "Meek's Cutoff" is not quite like any other landscape.
John Hartl - Seattle Times
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
The prose of Jack London has been effectively translated to film via the sparsity of Reichardt's intensely detailed neo-western.
Rob Humanick - Projection Booth
Violence -- potential and inevitable -- shapes each moment in this extraordinary film. Rarely visible and never cathartic, this violence is instead like the land that offers possibility and lays down limits for the emigrants.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Williams also starred in Reichardt's last, and best, film, Wendy and Lucy, and she clearly has a special affinity for the director, for whom she shows off her subtlest shades.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
At once gossamer and purposeful, it's Terrence Malick with a map.
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Like the bits of home life its pioneers have brought with them to an alien landscape, the careful craft grounds the film in a reality that is as much felt as it is observed.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
It's Reichardt once again subtly overturning the myths that have sustained American cinema for decades...
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
Meek's Cutoff is simultaneously cerebral and astonishingly cinematic, a historical road movie that stretches the inhospitable landscapes and marginal living of Wendy and Lucy in intriguing directions.
Kate Stables - Sight and Sound
...a reinventing of the [western] genre where nothing seems to happen but lots does.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
At once an intimate drama about a group of emigrants led dangerously off-course in 1874 Oregon, and an epically ambitious think piece about nothing less than the fate of western civilization.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
In Reichardt's latest, she takes the great American film genre - the Western - and makes it her own by making the point of view distinctly feminine.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
The ending will divide opinion between "hauntingly ambiguous" and "cop-out."
Anthony Quinn - Independent
A sterling effort, determined to tell some of the truth of the times.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
Not an easy journey for the characters or their audience, Reichardt's film demands respect for its sheer bloody-minded determination to leave its own questions frustratingly up for debate.
Catherine Bray - Film4
Reichardt's boldness in eschewing a sprawling retelling of how the West was won should be applauded, but she hasn't yet earned the right to take this long saying so little.
Adam Woodward - Little White Lies
It's an intriguing take on actual diaries kept by women pioneers of the time, but their journey may be as punishing for some viewers as it was for them...
Damon Wise - Radio Times
Simultaneously a compelling allegory and a hallucinatory fable, Meek's Cutoff is the most ambitious and accomplished film Reichardt has yet made.
Philip Concannon - Skinny
Philip Concannon - The Skinny
It delivers a patient, swoony account of itinerant tribulations in which conflict and intrigue bubble up only occasionally, and always gently.
Leo Robson - Financial Times
Reichardt's parched tale builds up a pressure cooker of tension and loyalties are strained and doubts are sewn... but then doesn't seem to know what to do with it.
Tim Evans - Sky Movies
This impressionist Western won't be everyone's slug of bourbon but it's a slow burn that will richly reward the patient.
Ian Freer - Empire Magazine
While I would love to fully appreciate this circular, feminist, counter-cinema perspective, no payoff makes for an audience that feels cheated.
Leslie Stonebraker - New York Press
There isn't a fully developed storyline, and there aren't enough ideas in a movie that film snobs will congratulate themselves for adoring. Pshaw.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Reichert really captures what it must have felt like to venture off the edge of the world in search of a new life
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Our interest is constantly stoked by Reichardt's choices as a director.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
less Western or anti-Western than it is a masterful bad trip littered with foolish expectations and "we should have" regrets
Chris Barsanti - Filmcritic.com
Austere and unforgiving...a picture of extraordinary detail and deliberate execution, rewarding the brave with a rare screen realism that's hypnotic.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Meek's Cutoff is an ambitious feat of visual storytelling that's alive to both its landscape and the actors who people it. This is a big movie masquerading as a small one, fully awake in even its quietest, slowest moments.
Stephanie Zacharek - Movieline
Forget that old computer game you may have played in middle school: Kelly Reichardt's fourth feature is a beautifully evocative portrait of life on the real Oregon Trail.
Ethan Alter - Film Journal International
A meditative Western that focuses on the spiritual transformation of a female settler into a leader as she journeys West in a covered wagon caravan.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Meticulous and immersive, Meek's Cutoff feels like history in three dimensions.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
One way or another, there will be blood.
Ella Taylor - NPR
Meek's Cutoff may not match Reichardt's previous two works in emotional heft, but it continues to cement her as a young director to watch closely.
Gabe Leibowitz - Film and Felt
It challenges patriarchy and racism, but it never risks questioning received political ideas.
Armond White - New York Press
A monumentally awful movie. Pretentious, uninformed, boring, and enough to drive one to a steady diet of Adam Sandler movies.
Louis Proyect - rec.arts.movies.reviews
With its mythic, dreamlike atmosphere, hints of feminism and a subversive touch of political allegory, Meek's Cutoff is a bold new take on the Old West.
Philip Kemp - Total Film
A more subversive than revisionist feminist western, and with a title intimating iconic macho cowboy metaphorical castration. While touching on current persisting and troubling questions about imperialist incursions, labeled Manifest Destiny back then.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
A slow, methodical, carefully researched look at traveling the Oregon trail before stagecoaches became extinct.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
The film's most powerful performance belongs to Williams, who shows a spirit and resolve seldom seen before. Her scenes confronting Meek are explosive and give the film a strong emotional core.
Steve Ramos - Boxoffice Magazine
Highlighted by precise performances, simmering tensions and unforgiving landscapes, this odd rarity - an arthouse western - will help broaden Reichardt's rabid but select fanbase.
Simon Foster - sbs.com.au
A story about people facing both physical adversity and adversity within a group
Jordan Hoffman - UGO
You might be tempted to call Meek's Cutoff an exercise in feminist, multiculturalist piety if these two latter characters had any clear idea of what they were doing, or an overriding motive other than self-preservation; but they don't, and you won't.
Stuart Klawans - Nation
Stuart Klawans - The Nation
Beautifully shot and impressively directed, this is a haunting, contemplative western with terrific performances from Bruce Greenwood and Michelle Williams, though Reichardt's relentlessly minimalist approach might prove hard going for some.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Meek's Cutoff is an act of inversion, a western that reverses the genre's traditional forms and dynamics to create something new and startling, yet still familiar.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
...a maddeningly dull drama...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Filmed with a rapt severity worthy of Ermanno Olmi's The Tree of the Wooden Clogs, hers is a horror-western where the minimalist subtly grows into the hallucinatory.
Fernando F. Croce - Slant Magazine
One of the finest American films of the year, and one that's going to infuriate as many people as it enthralls. That doesn't matter, as long as they see it.
Norman Wilner - Now Playing Magazine
Norman Wilner - NOW Toronto
The film, which clearly owes a debt to Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, proceeds at a snail's pace.
David Gritten - Daily Telegraph