Valerie Kalfrin

Valerie Kalfrin
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
I'm a multiple award-winning journalist who has left crime reporting behind to focus on fictional mayhem. I'm a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists who writes reviews, essays, criticism, and deep dives into film, entertainment, pop culture, and storytelling for The Hollywood Reporter (Heat Vision), RogerEbert.com, In Their Own League, The Script Lab, Script magazine, Film Racket, ScreenCraft, CC2K, Final Draft, and more.

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
88% Skater Girl (2021) The idea that one small step can change a person's life anchors the warmhearted Skater Girl, which tackles a lot of issues beyond a teenage girl in rural India who finds freedom on wheels. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2021
83% Port Authority (2019) Narratively, Port Authority leaves several loose ends, but it satisfies as a heartfelt romance and character study. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
61% Profile (2021) While it's no surprise that [the undercover journalist] starts to find her ISIS contact charming, Profile is absorbing because of how effectively it puts us in her shoes ... then why she begins to think of the recruiter with compassion. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
39% Things Heard & Seen (2021) Like the haunted house in upstate New York at the core of its story, Things Heard & Seen has good bones. Unfortunately, its plodding pace, shallow characterizations, and on-the-nose dialogue keep this Netflix thriller from being a satisfying showpiece. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
75% Duty Free (2021) Duty Free doesn't state it outright, but it's a pleasure to see Sian-Pierre Regis's love for his mom translate into showing how people have value, regardless of age. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
62% Wildcat (2021) The film tips its hand a little early ... but Georgina Campbell, who won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for 2014's Murdered by My Boyfriend, turns in a gripping performance. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
92% The Man Who Sold His Skin (2021) Writer-director Kaouther Ben Hania and The Man Who Sold His Skin question how often we objectify others and hold them at arm's length, even when they're not on exhibit. It's a thought-provoking and unexpectedly nuanced film. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
97% Shiva Baby (2021) Some viewers might consider the one-upmanship and Jewish flavor a little thick, like a slab of cream cheese. ... But like its seemingly aimless protagonist, [Shiva Baby] continually surprises, eventually finding its way. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
95% I'M FINE (Thanks for Asking) (2021) A small story with large stakes for its main character, I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking) reminds us there's a lot going on in someone's life, even when they insist all's well. It's an appeal for empathy with a lot of heart. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
80% Ludi (2021) Ludi's struggles and weariness are relatable, and ... Ludi eventually learns that she needs to care for herself as well as others, but the film's momentum unfortunately needs TLC. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
86% The House That Rob Built (2021) Fans of women's basketball ... will enjoy the plunge into history. But other viewers might find that the accomplishments of Robin Selvig and the women he coached bounce by too fast to absorb the emotional impact. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
93% My Little Sister (Schwesterlein) (2020) My Little Sister may not have consistent dramatic momentum, but it's a moving and heartfelt portrayal of a sister who gives all she can and a brother who finds a way to give back. Bring tissues. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
90% I Blame Society (2020) While [the film] crafts an effective portrait of a narcissist, I Blame Society's lack of focus and awkward pacing make it a misfire. It's the equivalent of whirling around with a machete instead of slicing with a scalpel. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 3, 2021
2.5/5 52% R#J (2021) an intriguing concept, but its execution ultimately fails to prove as engaging as the doomed sweethearts have on the page for more than seven centuries - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2021
4.5/5 92% The Fallout (2021) a powerful drama that largely ignores the carnage of [a school shooting] to highlight the teens' trauma and tenuous recovery. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2021
3.5/5 94% Best Summer Ever (2020) It's such an inclusive, adaptive, accepting place that viewers might forgive any narrative shortcomings because it's so infectiously joyous. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2021
3.5/5 96% Alien on Stage (2020) Anyone who loves the theatre or has felt like a deer in spotlights will get a kick out of [this] affectionate behind-the-scenes documentary about British bus employees and their families who turned a seminal sci-fi horror film into a comical West End hit. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2021
4/5 100% Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (2021) Intimate and moving ... - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2021
2.5/5 86% Here Before (2021) Andrea Riseborough turns in a solid performance that holds together this mystery thriller, even as the plot's familiarity and left-field twists nearly tear it apart. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2021
4/5 93% Luchadoras (2021) "Luchadoras" ... immerses us in the hardscrabble lives of a handful of women who carve out respect and confidence one match at a time. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2021
4/5 87% The Dig (2021) "a meditation on the fragility of life, how we're all connected, and what we leave behind." - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2021
3.5/5 59% Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) With its message of kindness and empathy, "Wonder Woman 1984" offers a soothing balm in a pandemic-weary year, even if getting there is a muddled journey. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2021
2 out of 5 39% Rebecca (2020) Ben Wheatley and his creative team had a lot to draw upon in this complicated cocktail to set their vision apart. But the end result is much like the new Mrs. de Winter, viewing Rebecca's portrait in the manor, and feeling lacking. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
3 out of 5 73% Mulan (2020) Mulan's story always did lend itself to spectacle. ... But most significantly -- and discomforting -- [this version] gives Mulan superpowers. ... It's a shame that someone decided she needed a sprinkling of pixie dust. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 7, 2020
84% Hacksaw Ridge (2016) The cinematography, editing, and sound pack a surprising amount of suspense, no small feat considering audiences know the outcome. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
91% La La Land (2016) [Stone and Gosling] might not have the fancy footwork of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but they're radiant together nonetheless, zinging through their rapport as well as their steps. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
30% Passengers (2016) The considerable charisma and chemistry of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence keep the sci-fi adventure Passengers afloat, even if the script easily fixes its most fascinating problems. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
89% John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) [Keanu] Reeves's Zen-like cool serves him well here. He's like an athlete resorting to muscle memory, lethal and lightning quick as he automatically falls into what he's done best. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
90% Captain America: Civil War (2016) It's also packed with stellar action sequences, flashes of humor, and chemistry among the characters that are sheer fun to watch. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
93% Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) It's a wonderfully rollicking adventure populated with beloved, familiar characters and intriguing new ones, all with earnest performances and striking chemistry. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
97% Spotlight (2015) The script... is a marvel of conveying a dense amount of information and characterization with intelligence, grace, and a surprising amount of tension. - The Script Lab EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
3.5/5 78% Frozen II (2019) [A]n ultimately satisfying story of more mature themes for an audience that's grown out of the dress-up stage. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2020
4.5/5 95% Little Women (2019) It has such verve, humor, and emotion, it's a delight that tempts viewers, like the March family's visitors, to linger in their world for a while. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2019
2/5 66% Jay & Silent Bob Reboot (2019) A blend of fan service (in the best way) and participatory theater. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
3.5/5 73% Galveston (2018) [Galveston] starts off like a dramatic thriller but winds up, like its characters, on an unexpected and affecting journey. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2019
4/5 88% This Changes Everything (2019) [P]acks enough statistics and anecdotes from top names in the industry about gender inequality ... to prove eye-opening, even to those who support women in film and television. - Their Own League EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2019
2.5/5 44% The Addams Family (2019) The story skitters off in so many directions, it feels like the disembodied hand Thing on a tear. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 10, 2019
1.5/5 68% Amaurosis (The Unseen) (2019) [I]t meanders and blurs, like its protagonist's vision. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 29, 2019
3/5 55% J.T. LeRoy (2019) For those unfamiliar with the real-life details of the LeRoy saga, JT LeRoy will seem light on details - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
B+ 90% How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a flight worth taking that ends on a beautiful note. - CC2K EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 8, 2019
2.5/5 61% Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Although not as gruesomely clever or funny as Tales, it gets in some decent barbs amid its behind-the-scenes backstabbing and bloodletting. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
2/5 38% The Remarkable Life of John Weld (2018) It certainly makes for an interesting life, but the interviews and presentation don't elevate Weld as truly remarkable. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
2/5 33% King of Thieves (2019) [T]he film's shifts in tone, unfocused script, and lagging pace, particularly in the second half, make for disappointing plunder. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 24, 2019
2/5 83% All These Small Moments (2019) Costanzo tugs on a lot of threads in this family tapestry, but the result is misshapen. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2019
B+ 83% Creed II (2018) [T]he film explores well enough how much of the past shapes who we become, and with Jordan, Thompson, and Stallone, it creates an endearing onscreen family. - CC2K EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
B+ 90% A Star Is Born (2018) The third remake of this decades-old Hollywood tale has a lot on its mind about art and fame in the modern age. Yet it also crafts an old-fashioned, touchingly tragic love story. - CC2K EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
4/5 97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) By expanding the possibilities of spider-heroes, it engagingly shows how heroics hinge most on a person's character. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
4/5 91% Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) If you're a superhero fan-or perhaps have superhero fatigue-this deliriously funny film will at least put a smile on your face. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 27, 2018
4/5 93% Incredibles 2 (2018) Both funny and poignant. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 16, 2018
3.5/5 69% Ocean's 8 (2018) [L]ight on its feet with a calculating mind. - Film Racket EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 9, 2018