His Dark Materials
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Holy hell, what happened here? I suppose I knew what I was getting myself into, given the rating and notoriety â" but Sam Peckinpahâ(TM)s look at rural England is darker and more violent than I expected. Dustin Hoffman, a math/astrophysics researcher, and his English wife Susan George, travel back to her hometown when he gets a grant that allows him to study independently. He may be fleeing something (workplace politics, perhaps) but the locals do not make him welcome either. Worse, there seems to be an increasing barrier between Amy (George) and David (Hoffman), reinforcing his separateness as an American outside of his own culture. A bunch of handymen hired to put a roof on the garage start to menace them, including one who knew Amy in the past. They kill the cat and then there is a horrible, even worse than usual, rape scene. Peckinpah came under fire for this and there doesnâ(TM)t seem to be any justifiable reason why one would film it. Certainly, it increases the tension â" but it isnâ(TM)t clear that Hoffman ever finds out and thus the threat to his masculinity (which must be Peckinpahâ(TM)s theme) isnâ(TM)t clear either. Except these local rapists really do taunt him and her and also an intellectually disabled man (David Warner) who is possibly a pedophile â" their desire to lynch the latter sets the final showdown in motion when David seeks to protect this problematic character from the gang. Then further intense brutality ensues as they lay siege to the house and David must find his masculinity (including slapping Amy around) to fight them off. Given Peckinpahâ(TM)s reputation for drinking and womanizing, it is hard not to think that he approves of this change in David. But letâ(TM)s hope that, close to 50 years later, this championing of a âmasculinity contestâ? (there is new social psych research on this) can be seen as the catastrophe it really is. It canâ(TM)t solve interpersonal problems and the consequences for society can only be dire. Peckinpah doesnâ(TM)t stick around to show us.
A distinct attempt thus jewel to watch.
One of the most visceral and controversial films to ever be released, especially during the 1970's. A powerhouse performance from Dustin Hoffman and sharp direction from Sam Peckinpah.
Oscar nomination-deserving leads and director for this violent, dark, rural tale. Paced like a home-thriller it is charming and captivating. One of Peckinpah's very best.
A tense drama showing that even a mathematician can become dangerous when pushed to his limits
Straw Dogs is hard to watch, not entirely because of the one scene, but it sure was my least favorite moment of the film. That scene is traumatizing for the character, and similarly difficult to sit through as a viewer (I will neither confirm nor deny whether I fast-forwarded through most of it.) Even without that element in the film I’m not convinced I would have enjoyed Straw Dogs. The first half includes a lot of bickering between a husband and wife, which I tend to find annoying. I’ve been in enough arguments in real life, so I don’t feel like watching them in my free time as well. I also found it odd how this movie seems to paint all small-town residents of England as psycho, drunk, rapist killers. It’s like a classic horror movie where the monsters are all Brits. The final act is where things come to a head, and it was arguably the best part of the film. It is a little bit like Home Alone as we watch Dustin Hoffman throw together whatever he can find to fend off the zombie-like Englishmen. I am mystified by how hard it is for these guys to get into the house, especially considering we hear about 500 windows break throughout this sequence. You’d swear it was a glass house and they should have been able to walk in after the first rock was thrown. The inevitable fisticuffs are underwhelming and it astounds me how the protagonist still seems unprepared when he has to engage in hand-to-hand combat. I felt tense at a few moments, but most of the time I was just keeping an eye on my watch wondering when it would end. Then in the final scene we are left with a still and quiet moment with some dialogue that I suppose was meant to sound profound. I was even more annoyed when I realized they were trying to make this some kind of symbolic journey of lost innocence. If anyone lost their innocence in this movie it was me from watching it. I’m sure there’s more to this theme and it’s something remarkable to those who embrace a darker narrative. For me it didn’t resonate because I don’t particularly like any of the characters, and the more they embraced their dark sides, the less I cared about them. I’ll be the first to admit that Straw Dogs is not my kind of movie, and I found most of it unpleasant as expected, so perhaps my opinion is unimportant to those who might enjoy a film of this style.
"Who cares if you're an intellectual," Peckinpah seems to inquire, and indeed his hero, played by Dustin Hoffman, is a math scholar and bores anyone when he talks about his work, his passion, and eyes glass over - even his wife's (Susan George). The workman in the small English village they've moved to disrespect him, milking the labor, laughing at him to his face, and eyeing his wife lecherously. "What is it that makes a man a man in a world that only respects violence?" One of the best films ever made if you ask me, looks at some answers.
Why does Amy seem like she's kind of "into" the rape?? And why is it shot in such an erotic manner?? Fuck. This. Fucking. Film.
Wow. I didn't realise Peckinpah did dull and prosaic.
Straw Dogs goes above and beyond exploitative B-movie shenanigans and digs its claws into themes of masculinity, civility, and searing rage.