Of Gods and Men (2011)



Critic Consensus: Patient and restrained, Of Gods and Men asks deep, profound questions that will linger in the audience's mind long after the movie.

Movie Info

Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay... come what may. This film is loosely based on the life of the … More

Rating: PG-13 (for a momentary scene of startling wartime violence, some disturbing images and brief language)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Xavier Beauvois, Etienne Comar
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 5, 2011
Box Office: $3.9M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


as Christian

as Christophe

as Jean-Pierre

as Ali Fayattia

as Terrorist
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Critic Reviews for Of Gods and Men

All Critics (111) | Top Critics (29)

Alternately harrowing and humbling, this is a story of ordinary men whose compassion is tested in the cruelest, most profound fashion.

Full Review… | August 10, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Beauvois takes his time limning the daily rhythms of the monastery, lingering on its most lyrical and sensuous moments, so that when violence finally reaches its gates the effect is all the more chilling.

Full Review… | July 28, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

Quietly compelling, if not as emotional as you might have hoped

Full Review… | January 12, 2013
Tribune News Service

Beauvois shows respect for all of the characters and cultures involved -- the monks, the community they served, even the enemies that the monks remembered in their prayers.

Full Review… | June 12, 2012

Una película dura, hermosa y conmovedora sobre un episodio trágico que fue, ante todo, un acto de sacrificio y resistencia ante la violencia y el miedo. Desde ya, una de las fundamentales del año.

Full Review… | September 10, 2011
Uruguay Total

Of Gods and Men has a slow, introspective quality that gives the viewer plenty of time to mull over the monks' quandary, but it also has a feeling of constant dread.

Full Review… | September 9, 2011

Audience Reviews for Of Gods and Men

A group of Trappist monks must decide to flee or remain when a nearby village is threatened by Muslim extremists.
As slow burns go, Of Gods and Men is one of the most compelling. Tightly scripted and slowly but tensely paced, as this story unfolds, the film's themes emerge subtly: the film portrays the austerity of faith and how faith leads to a sense of security and conviction. While I'm not personally committed to these theses, the film's portrayal is richly textured and compelling. By the end of the film, we get to know these monks about as well as we get to know anyone in an understated French film, and it's hard not to admire them.
Overall, this is profound and compelling story well-told.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

A slow and touching drama that looks at the true story of a group of monks who refuse to leave their monastery despite the danger they are faced with. This film skyrockets to levels of absolute perfection thanks to the way it handles religion on such a human level. The religious aspects are part of the characters, and not necessarily part of the film itself. Lambert Wilson is astonishing as the quiet but strong monk Christian, who must decide whether to stay and possibly die or leave and live. We are shown the true power of the human spirit without ever having to face over sentimental music or melodramatics. Every scene is handled with absolute faith in the cast and writing, as one scene tears us apart with tension, without needless editing nor a bombastic soundtrack. A gentle masterpiece.

Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

Loosely based on actual events that took place between 1993 and 1996, this is the story of 8 French monks living in Algeria in harmony with their Muslim neighbors in the surrounding village.

This particular group of monks are from the Cistercian Order, which means that their defining feature, beyond pacifism, is that they do not proselytize or evangelize. Instead, they devote themselves to pray, worship, and serving the needs of the public at large, which in this case is running a clinic that provides the medical needs of the locals.

Despite their differences in faith, ethnicity, and heritage, these men coexist nicely with the Muslims. All of that changes however, when a group of Islamic Fundamentalists kill a group of foreign workers, upsetting the delicate balance. As the fear and tensions rise, the monks find themselves and their faith tested, forcing them to make some tough choices, especially when they are taken hostage.

Despite the fact that I often have a really irreverent regard for religion (primarily my own beliefs), I can get serious at times, and have much respect for productions such as this movie, that take issues of faith, religion, and acceptance seriously. Being a Catholic, and having spent time around monks at an Abbey, I can say that the film does a great job of how they portray monastic life.

This film is quite quiet, contemplative, and thoughtful, much like its characters. The film has a deliberately easy pace, allowing the viewer to really relax and drink in the world these character inhabit, providing a nice look at the everyday workings of monks doing the mission they were called out for.

I also appreciate the portrayal of the Muslims, and how it's not a purely black and white situation. When things get sour, they are handled in an appropriately downplayed manner, relying on subtlety instead of going visceral.

The film is quite moving, and there's many great moments, but the best moment, hands down, has to be the sequence set to "Swan Lake", which absolutely floored me.

While the ending doesn't totally come as a surprise (especially since its based on true events), it is nevertheless quite good. You could argue that the characters and their motives could have been better developed, but I feel like they did it decently enough. The actors likewise, do a good job, and are quite convincing as a group of men with great senses of compassion and devotion. Where the film really shines is in the departments of mood, tone, atmosphere, production design, and cinematography. It's all simply beautiful.

All in all, this is quite a film. I kept getting interrupted while viewing it, which kept taking me out of the experience, so, if not for that, I'd probably be giving this a higher grade. As it stand though, I have a lot of admiration for this. It's certainly not a film for everyone, but if you've enjoyed what you've read, and think you might like it, then give it a shot.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Of Gods and Men Quotes

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