Cowards Bend the Knee (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cowards Bend the Knee (2004)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Cowards Bend the Knee Photos

Movie Info

An expressionist work comprised of surreal action involving: a hockey rink that houses a forgotten wax museum, where ghosts of dead lovers stroll; and a beauty salon where a demented doctor, wearing a corset, performs abortions.
Drama , Special Interest , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Darcy Fehr
as Guy Maddin
Amy Stewart
as Veronica
Louis Negin
as Dr. Fusi
Mike Bell
as Mo Mott
Victor Cowie
as Maddin Sr.
Herdis Maddin
as Gramma
Marion Martin
as Mrs. Maddin
Bernard Lesk
as Stickboy
Erin Hershberg
as Customer/Stylist
Erika Rintoul
as Customer
Kathryn Stuart
as Customer
Lauren Ritz
as Customer
Rebecca Sandulak
as Customer
Kirstin Ward
as Customer
Billy Dee Knight
as Customer
Erica Smith
as Customer
Ricardo Alms
as Hockey Player
Craig Aftanas
as Hockey Player
Jim Crawford
as Hockey Player
Mike Silver
as Hockey Player
Bob Unger
as Hockey Player
Mark Yuill
as Hockey Player/Cop
Caelum Vatnsdal
as Hockey Player
Matt Holm
as Hockey Player
Erin McKenzie
as Stylist
Richard Orlandini
as Wax Maroon
Don Hewak
as Wax Maroon
Stan Lesk
as Wax Maroon
Ted Avent
as Wax Maroon
Jon Ted Wynne
as Wax Maroon
Ian Yorsky
as Wax Maroon/Cop
Dave McDonald
as Wax Maroon
Shauna Evans
as Audience Member
Tracy McBride
as Audience Member
Rodney LaTourelle
as Audience Member
Alex Khizder
as Audience Member
as Toby
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Cowards Bend the Knee

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (6)

If you've never seen Maddin's work, Cowards Bend the Knee is a good place to start.

January 28, 2005
Seattle Times
Top Critic

There's no denying the imagination and technical ingenuity on display, but this clearly ranks as one of Maddin's less accessible efforts, which is definitely saying something.

August 18, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Lurid, tawdry and untoward entertainment from Canada's reigning mad genius.

August 13, 2004
Top Critic

It's bliss, I tell you!

August 11, 2004
New York Daily News
Top Critic

There is also something rather splendid about this extended-play peep show, as if Mr. Maddin had stumbled across a hitherto lost archive of cinema's less-than-innocent past.

August 11, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

What's truly extraordinary about this movie -- which strikes me on two viewings as Maddin's masterpiece -- is that it not only plays like a dream but feels like one.

August 10, 2004
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cowards Bend the Knee

When you're no longer capable of slaking your thirst with David Lynch, move up to Guy Maddin. His tesseract narratives, richly amazing character portrayals, and oddly on-point cinematography seem like they've been fated for centuries (even when they come from the hip). Years ago, a friend advised that the best way to view Maddin's work was through various lenses of altered consciousness. I disagree. I believe firmly that Maddin's work is itself an alteration of consciousness that allows us to wake up to the rich and baroque beauty that surrounds our everyday reality.

Harreld Dinkins
Harreld Dinkins

This is kinda what Un Chien Andalou would be like if Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel were Canadians raised on Hockey and Canadian Whiskey. A surreal, semi-auto-biographical (in ways only Guy Maddin knows I'm sure), silent film featuring abortions, amputations, strangulations (including a cop (!)), fisting, boobies, wax sculptures and of course Hockey. This film is difficult to summarize so I won't bother. I can say that Guy Maddin is quickly becoming one of my favourite film makers from Canada or otherwise and everyone owes it to themselves to check out his unique films. Especially if your a fan of Silent Era films, Surrealism, German Expressionism or movies like Eraserhead, Tetsuo or Begotten. Strongly Recommended.

Ed Fucking Harris
Ed Fucking Harris

Super Reviewer


The impossible to summarize, dreamlike plot features a hockey player with a wandering eye, abortions, seductive ghosts, hand transplants, matricide, an ice breast, slapstick routines, and wax galoots. Shot as a silent film with disorienting, stuttering editing, "Cowards" is shocking, stylish and often hilarious, playing out like a mix of "Un Chien Andalou," "Mad Love," the Three Stooges, and "NHL on the Fly."

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

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