If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front Reviews

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Chris Hewitt (St. Paul)
St. Paul Pioneer Press
July 21, 2011
McGowan's views on the environment have taken several turns, but none of them is illustrated in the film, in which he comes off as passive and a little whiny.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
June 22, 2011
Though it is amusing watching the ring fall apart, "Goodfellas"-style, as the terrorists rat on each other, the film's sense of grievance will be shared by few.
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Mark Feeney
Boston Globe
July 28, 2011
The problem is that the heart of the movie is McGowan. He's just not a very compelling figure.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
July 14, 2011
Unless you are a true believer in the tenets of deep ecology, the film may seem more like an apology for the group's dangerous activities.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Bruce Diones
New Yorker
June 27, 2011
An informative, if troubling, narrative about the future of the environmental movement.
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Stephanie Merry
Washington Post
August 12, 2011
Curry tells a compelling tale about the differences of opinion over what constitutes desperate measures, and how readily we throw around a term like terrorism.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Sam Adams
Time Out
June 22, 2011
Considering its incendiary subject, Curry's approach is disarmingly tame; perhaps reframing the debate in less volatile terms is some kind of lukewarm triumph.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Simon Foster
sbs.com.au
February 9, 2012
As emotive and far-reaching as the issues involved are, this incisive feature is most potent when capturing Daniel McGowan's life and mind dismantling.
Fr. Chris Carpenter
Movie Dearest
July 15, 2011
Gets a bit bogged down in legal and procedural details during its final 30 minutes but it will, hopefully, open eyes and hearts.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Kelly Vance
East Bay Express
July 21, 2011
An intelligent look at civil disobedience and the official criminalization of enviros who take peaceful demonstrations one step further.
Chris Faraone
Boston Phoenix
July 28, 2011
Although kind to the plights of activists who face hard time for victimless crimes, this film is balanced -- conservatives could easily interpret it as validation of the group's persecution.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Chris Barsanti
Filmcritic.com
June 23, 2011
The story of how a muscular anti-logging campaign devolved into sectarian turmoil that shot off radicalized cells like burning cinders is ultimately what drives the film and makes it so rewarding
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Lauren Wissot
Slant Magazine
June 18, 2011
The doc manages to drive home the notion that, however much one might disagree with ELF's tactics, their point of view holds a lot of truth.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Jennifer Merin
About.com
June 19, 2011
A compelling documentary that expands a little known chapter in the environmental movement to raise questions about how social protest should be staged, how terrorism should be defined and how civil disobedience should be handled by authorities.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Justin Lowe
Hollywood Reporter
February 8, 2011
A trenchant examination of radical environmentalism and the implications of domestic terrorism laws.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Spirituality and Practice
June 10, 2011
A hard-hitting documentary about the activities of the Earth Liberation Front which has been labeled by the FBI as the nation's Number 1 domestic terrorism threat.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews
October 29, 2011
An earnest and even-handed documentary about a naive and whiny mild-mannered thirtysomething ecology activist.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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John Anderson
Variety
January 26, 2011
A gimlet-eyed glimpse into the roots of terrorism and the politics behind its prosecution.
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Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
June 21, 2011
Takes us through reams of fascinating drama, from the first heroic forest-saving protests to the reactive police violence and resulting dead-of-night firebombs to the core group's implosion after the FBI tightens the net.
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Stephen Holden
New York Times
June 21, 2011
The film's sobriety and carefully balanced arguments make it an exemplary piece of reporting, although its emotional heat rarely rises to a boil.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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