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Sweetgrass (2009)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 57
Fresh: 55 | Rotten: 2

At once tender and unsentimental, Sweetgrass gracefully captures the beauty and hardships of a dying way of life.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 1

At once tender and unsentimental, Sweetgrass gracefully captures the beauty and hardships of a dying way of life.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 587

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Movie Info

Filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor continue their work capturing the stark beauty and danger of the Western landscape with this documentary. With only a soundtrack as narration, Sweetgrass tracks shepherds through Montana as they take their flocks on the long trek to the Beartooth Mountains. ~ Kimber Myers, Rovi

Aug 3, 2010


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All Critics (59) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (55) | Rotten (2) | DVD (2)

If there's anything we can learn from the creatures here, it's that any day in which you don't get stripped of your coat or eaten by a bear is probably a good one.

July 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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There are audience rewards for sticking with the herd and its lonesome cowboys.

July 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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Instead of rounding up information, this documentary about an arduous sheep drive across Montana is driven by the beauty of the landscape.

June 17, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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It's a gorgeous and, believe it or not, riveting documentary...about sheep.

May 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
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It may not be your thing, but Sweetgrass is unlike anything you'll see in a theater this year. It bravely strays from the flock.

April 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
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Filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor rigorously follow the cinema-verité creed: no sonorous Morgan Freeman voiceovers, no explanatory intertitles until the finale, just carefully observed reality.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The talk is sheep. And normally, I'd say baa humbug to sitting down with lambs for 90 minutes. But any apprehension. abates under the power of a documentary that's as beautiful as it is informative.

May 25, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

As it progresses it begins to strike a subtly elegiac, unsentimental tone...

June 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

Unadorned by narrative or score, it's an unsentimental portrayal of a fading way of life and the peaceful creatures under its charge.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A tenaciously observed and a quietly absorbing ethnography about a pair of shepherds leading some 3,000 sheep on a 150-mile journey up into Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture.

April 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

The images, including sheep on the move up near vertical hills, are remarkable, the landscape spectacular, the unsentimental account of back-breaking, backside-aching work impressive.

April 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

If Avatar was last year's best-looking film, 2011's award may well go to a documentary shot for small change concerning sheep. No, really.

April 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

This beautiful and hypnotic documentary shows the agony and the ecstasy of herding sheep up into Montana's Beartooth mountains for the summer pasture.

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

It would be foolish not to experience this film.

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

I have no doubt that, come the end of the year, Sweetgrass will be on the "10 Best" lists. It is that memorable for pictorial, cultural and even moral reasons.

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Sweetgrass is probably the definition of niche, but one dedicated to some of the highest ideals of film: it brings us information from a place we've never been, and with a rapturous innocence.

April 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

The movie is decidedly no frills, and it both lives and dies by this strict adherence to its protocol.

March 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

A documentary of uncommon elegance and abstract expression... What always impresses about the movie is its here-and-nowness.

January 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Sweetgrass is a film of record about the American West. It documents, pays tribute to a fast-fading way of life. You want 'True Grit?' This is it!

December 16, 2010 Full Review Source:

Entertaining, despite its slow pace and general lack of dialogue and music. It is plain, but strong.

November 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

An intoxicating audiovisual experience and a sprawling story that encompasses nothing less than the seasons, birth and death.

August 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

So I have to admit, the first few notes I took while watching the documentary "Sweetgrass" consisted of writing "Wow, that's a lot of sheep!" over and over again.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin State Journal

Even viewers caught unaware of just how natural this documentary is could easily find themselves mesmerized by its unique charms.

June 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Retriever
Movie Retriever

The movie celebrates a particular lifestyle and it's an homage to a dying tradition -- a slice of history that's fascinating to witness.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Sweetgrass

"Sweetgrass" is a stunningly photographed documentary about the process of sheep farming in Montana. The movie keeps the human subjects at a distance, giving us little chance to really get to know any of them. Instead, the natural scenery and the sheep are the true stars here and the one who looks directly into the camera knows that. In fact, he would like to file a complaint with his union representative about the working conditions.

Yeah about that. Not much has changed in this profession since the 19th century. The cowboys still ride horses, camp out under the stars and rely on dogs for a lot of help in keeping the sheep in line. Cell phones are about the only indication that this is now the 21st century. And I should warn those of you expecting lots and lots of footage of cute sheep roaming around the mountains that there is a gruesome shot of an eviscerated sheep which speaks to the difficulty and frustration for the cowboys which is expressed in the most colorful language heard since "Deadwood" went off the air.
June 24, 2011
Walter M.

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