Shakespeare Behind Bars - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shakespeare Behind Bars Reviews

Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
August 12, 2008
This fascinating video documentary covers a nine-month rehearsal of Shakespeare's final play by inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange, Kentucky.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
May 19, 2006
The up-close interviews with the prisoners, many of whom are in jail for murder, are the heart of the film.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Kevin Crust
Los Angeles Times
May 12, 2006
Rogerson and producer Jilann Spitzmiller ably convey the humanity of the inmates while also exposing them as deeply flawed individuals. The film also reconfirms the enduring relevance and power of Shakespeare and his adaptability to almost any milieu.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Jessica Winter
L.A. Weekly
May 11, 2006
Albeit a tad repetitive, Shakespeare Behind Bars succeeds in humanizing men we might too easily label as monsters, and provides a solid argument in favor of prisons that place rehabilitation above retribution.
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Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
May 11, 2006
Few non-fiction films about the arts hit as hard or soar to such heights of poetry and humanity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
May 5, 2006
Observes as the inmates use theater to massage knots of guilt and anguish in their psyches.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
April 14, 2006
The film makes the case -- one that always needs making -- that, despite what they've done, these men retain some shred of humanity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Michael Booth
Denver Post
April 14, 2006
Rogerson lets the cameras roll, and we get real insight into daily prison life. But he doesn't stop to create context, and we feel stuck inside the razor wire.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 8, 2006
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
March 31, 2006
An immensely moving tribute to the power of art.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
March 10, 2006
We'd all like to believe that art is a lot more powerful than it is, but during rehearsals, two inmates who swear that Shakespeare has shown them the light are instead cast off to the Hole for breaking prison rules.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
March 10, 2006
The mere fact that Shakespeare can teach hardened criminals to search their souls gives hope that forgiveness and redemption are possible -- even at the bottom of the human barrel.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jeannette Catsoulis
New York Times
March 9, 2006
In Shakespeare Behind Bars, the most restricted people in society find freedom in performance and release in words.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Joe Leydon
Variety
March 9, 2006
There's no denying the pic's overall impact as a compelling study of art as a source of transcendence.
Top Critic
Jan Stuart
Newsday
March 9, 2006
Any minute of this low-budget, digitally shot documentary packs more punch than the entirety of most triumph-of-the-human-spirit blockbusters.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Matt Singer
Village Voice
March 7, 2006
Rogerson's structure is ingenious: He dilutes our initial skepticism by showcasing the prisoners' thoughtfulness and intelligence, and as soon as we've come to care for the men he shocks us with the details of their crimes.