Shadows

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,605

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Movie Info

At a party, Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a young African-American girl with a light complexion, meets Tony (Anthony Ray), a somewhat callow white musician, and they begin a romance. Lelia thinks she's in love, but Tony is surprised when he meets her older brother, Hugh (Hugh Hurd), and realizes she's black. Hugh is an unsuccessful singer with a hostile attitude, while Lelia's other sibling, Ben (Ben Carruthers), is trying to make it as a trumpet player when he isn't getting into trouble.

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News & Interviews for Shadows

Critic Reviews for Shadows

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (23)

  • [Shadows is] so far ahead of all Hollywood and independent films that once you've seen [it] you can no longer look at the official cinema: you know that American cinema can be more sensitive and intelligent.

    November 18, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Again and again the line between acting and living is erased. Caught in the ecstasy of collective creation, a handful of earnest amateurs have almost accidentally produced a flawed but significant piece of folk art.

    September 27, 2015 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • This is the only Cassavetes film made without a full script (it grew out of acting improvs), and rarely has so much warmth, delicacy, and raw feeling emerged so naturally and beautifully from performances in an American film.

    April 29, 2007 | Full Review…
  • A very modern, impressionistic snapshot of New York bohemia with scenes linked not by dramatic line but by place, time and mood.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Shadows is an unfinished picture in every sense of the word. Yet it is fitfully dynamic, endowed with a raw but vibrant strength, conveying an illusion of being a record of real people, and it is incontestably sincere.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Arguably the founding work of the American independent cinema.

    June 17, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Shadows

  • Jul 22, 2014
    Don't have much to say about this movie, seems others enjoyed it I did Not. 1 Star 3-2514
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 07, 2011
    Everyone knows "Shadows" is a historically important film, but it's also interesting on its own terms. The loose plot takes place within the late-'50s clique of New York jazz cats. Period lingo is kept to a minimum (save some talk of "making the scene"), so the dialogue doesn't age as badly as one might expect. A white man picks up a beautiful young woman, but later discovers she's a fair-skinned black. The meat of the story is the racial tension between the surprised man and the woman's wary brothers, but the conflict is pushed aside rather than building to a strong conclusion. Otherwise, the sequences mostly dwell on cynical hipsters cavorting in clubs and apartments while making aggressive plays for whatever tawdry babe is within reach. The closing credits boast that the film was an improvisation, and some awkward cuts and blackouts do suggest off-the-cuff spontaneity that was structured afterwards in the editing room. The acting is amateurish, though not offensively so. Director John Cassavetes briefly appears as a ruffian in one early crowd scene.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2011
    A film made using improvisation performances from it's talented cast, Shadows was the first film by director John Cassavetes and was made with a meager budget of $40,000. The film obviously focuses fully on the story and issues at hand and the brief 82 minute runtime flies by as the film keeps going full steam ahead. A great drama piece exploring the, rare at the time, issue with interracial relationships and is a genuine and realistic approach to the ideals explored.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 30, 2011
    You can cheer for <i>Ben Hur</i> and <i>Some Like it Hot</i> as much as you want, but truth is Cassavetes' "improvisatory" examination of daily life is several times much more imporant, socially speaking. A set of common characters with multiple personalities arise undeniable psychological clashes. It's perhaps also important to note that this directorial debut hit American cinemas before Godard's work travelled abroad, so you may add the "improvisation" excuse right there, in Cassavetes' style. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful contribution to the independent cinema branch. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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