A moving, intelligent and funny film about disasters that are commonplace to everyone except the people who experience them.
Vincent Canby - New York Times
An intelligent, perceptive, and deeply moving film.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
The film looks austere and serious, rather as if it had been shot inside a Frigidaire, and the oppressiveness of the images tends to strangle laughter, even at the most absurd excesses of Alvin Sargent's script.
Dave Kehr - Chicago Reader
A powerfully intimate domestic drama.
Todd McCarthy - Variety
What Redford accomplishes is to provide an excellent portrait of how well families can hide their inner turmoil from the prying eyes of outsiders.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
An austere and delicate examination of the ways in which a likable family falters under pressure and struggles, with ambiguous results, to renew itself.
Richard Schickel - TIME Magazine
Better than forever being dismissed with a huffy "I can't believe that beat Raging Bull".
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Story of emotional honesty is best for older kids.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Only reaching Chekhovian heights in its dreams.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Fully deserving of its many accolades.
Dean Essner - Empire Magazine
For an Oscar-winner it's unusually bleak but the power is very carefully controlled.
Dean Essner - Film4
This dissection of family mores in upscale suburbia is emotionally powerful, decidedly unsentimental, and the suitable text for the feature directorial debut of Robert Redford.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Robert Redford chose to adapt Judith Guest's novel as his first directorial effort, with impressive results.
Dean Essner - TV Guide's Movie Guide
A beautifully acted film about the impact of a family tragedy on those who blame themselves and others.
Wesley Lovell - Oscar Guy
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
An actors' movie and an advert for therapy, extremely bitter, but handsomely directed in its elegant pretentiousness.
Dean Essner - Time Out
The 1980 drama hasn't aged well.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Clint Morris - Film Threat
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Mark R. Leeper - rec.arts.movies.reviews
It is Redford's ability to let the movie breathe...that forces the viewer to experience the film on a visceral level.
Sarah Chauncey - Reel.com
Carol Cling - Las Vegas Review-Journal
It works fairly on the screen, but holds none of the effectiveness of Guest's novel.
Greg Muskewitz - eFilmCritic.com
Redford never has topped his directorial debut.
John Urbancich - Sun Newspapers of Cleveland
...an uncommonly rich and rewarding cinematic experience.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Josh Gilchrist - Billings Outpost (Montana)
Bryant Frazer - Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
This is a movie about emotional honesty, about the courage and emotional vocabulary that are necessary for the connections and intimacy we need to be able to survive challenges like the tragedy faced by this family.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
A sensitive portrait about a young man struggling to regain equilibrium after his brother's death that helps us gain a fresh perspective on adolescence and adulthood.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
despite its flaws, Ordinary People is a powerful depiction of the damage done when human beings can no longer communicate with those closest to them
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
This is a film that will ring true many viewers. The ability of the film to touch 'ordinary' folk so strongly and honestly is the mark of a true classic.
Ryan Cracknell - Apollo Guide
Somber and subtly depressing
Christopher Null - Filmcritic.com
An uncomfortable film, one that leaves you aching for its characters. Expect a bit of a funk afterward.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher