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Besieged

Besieged (1998)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 5

No consensus yet.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 3,555

My Rating

Movie Info

Bernardo Bertolucci directed this Italian drama co-scripted by Bertolucci and Clare Peploe from a story by British-born writer James Lasdun (co-scripter of Jonathan Nossiter's Sunday). In Rome, reclusive British composer Jason Kinsky (David Thewlis) lives in the building he inherited from his aunt, while his cleaning woman Shandurai (Thandie Newton) resides in the basement, studying medicine. One day, Kinsky tells Shandurai that he loves her and will do anything for her, so she asks him to free

Dec 21, 1999

Fine Line

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (12) | DVD (1)

Bertolucci and co-writer Clare Peploe seem intent on deconstructing the story's interesting elements at every turn, substituting woolliness for clarity, atmospherics for real emotion and an often condescending, armchair-liberal naivete for real political

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a film about the limits of art, about civilization at this moment of flux, and about a gentle connection between a man and a woman.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a deeply engrossing, often exquisite film by someone who knows visuals. It's sensory, sensual, handmade.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What an unexpected gift.

March 19, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Given Bertolucci's impish leanings, the self-referential sequences may merely be gags. If so, they're among a half-dozen others that backfire.

December 19, 2001 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A film that combines a stunning sensuality with a rigorous economy.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Made for Italian TV, this modestly scaled, intimate drama about the relationship between a British musician and his African housekeeper is well acted by Thandie Newton and David Thewlis.

December 4, 2010 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Maddening on many fronts and strangely wordless, Bernardo Bertolucci's purported love story breaks no new ground.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Bertolucci conjures magic once again.

February 10, 2006
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Visually creative filmmaking.

May 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

One of the most accessible films to come from Bertolucci and shows the filmmakers deep understanding of his craft.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Despite a vividly expressive performance by Newton, the lack of urgency equates to a lack of intimacy.

December 28, 2004 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

A thinking audience's romance.

October 8, 2004
Reeling Reviews

An aesthetic treat for art film lovers. Everyone else should stay away.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

A film full of hope, full of heart and full of simple rewards for the audience lucky enough to find it.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Bertolucci and co-writer Clare Peploe tell an intimate and painstaking tale that's complemented by exquisitely restrained acting.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Does this allusive, delicate story work? The answer is yes, provided you are sympathetic with what Bertolucci is trying to do.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

A compelling drama about sacrificial love.

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Besieged succeeds more triumphantly.

January 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

a master filmmaker at the peak of his powers...celluloid poetry

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: culturevulture.net
culturevulture.net

Audience Reviews for Besieged

A graceful, visually exquisite piece that (on a second watch) works for me despite its flaws. The languid nature of the narrative is obviously a detractor as far as audience connection goes, but it works to establish an enigmatic presence for both of the main characters. The story has a poetic sensibility that allows us to discard some of our expectations as to what the movie is going to deliver. David Thewlis is brilliant, as always, and Thandie Newton is very strong too. That's saying a lot, since the actors have very little dialogue to establish their performances with. Watch it once, think about it, and then watch it again.
September 3, 2009
michaelcorleone

Super Reviewer

Besieged was an useless combination of political and romantic drama, wandering back and forth between the two leads that never really had reached each other. The movie had an interesting beginning with the imprisonment of Shandurai's husband, but the story gradually fell apart after that. There was no emotional force driving the events in the movie and there was never any satisfying realization of Shandurai's sadness. It was fine performance by Thandie Newton in the lead, but Bertolucci's lack to balance out the two halves of the story, stopped the characters from reaching their full potential, and so we could not seen a fascinating drama. Too bad.
April 7, 2010
mvieaddict
Daisy Maduro

Super Reviewer

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