Sweetgrass (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sweetgrass (2009)



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

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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

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Critic Reviews for Sweetgrass

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (21)

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.

Full Review… | July 22, 2010
Toronto Star
Top Critic

There are audience rewards for sticking with the herd and its lonesome cowboys.

Full Review… | July 16, 2010
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

It's a gorgeous and, believe it or not, riveting documentary...about sheep.

Full Review… | May 21, 2010
Washington Post
Top Critic

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
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | April 15, 2010
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Sweetgrass


Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2009) Sweetgrass opens with two incredibly compelling shots that would do Béla Tarr proud. In some ways, they set the tone for the film; there's a lot of landscape, a lot of sheep, and a lot of lingering shots, either stationary or slow-pan. Barbash and Castaing-Taylor are well aware of Tarr. And if the movie played out its full length as it does in those first two shots and the twenty-five minutes that follow them, I would have put this pretty high on my list of favorite documentaries ever. Unfortunately, as you may surmise from that last sentence, it doesn't. The first half-hour is gorgeous. It keeps up with the sheep-and-landscape theme. Humans exist in the movie, of course, but at no point during the first half-hour are those humans more than background noise, either in their presence in the film or the movie's sound (which, I should warn you, my wife found incredibly annoying; I had no problems with it). It is languid, and it is breathtaking. Then the humans take center stage, and while I won't say the entire thing goes to pot, it takes a pretty sharp left turn in that direction. These are not likable folks, for the most part. Actually, I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to come up with diplomatic ways to talk about this, and I can't. I hated these people. Every last one of them. The sheep have better personalities. Whenever the directors left the humans and cut to another slow pan shot of a huge mountain with sheep coming down it or a tree framed in moonlight or a sheep's face in close-up, I rejoiced a little. I also spent some time hoping that there would be another human-free half-hour bookending the film, but (spoiler alert!) it was not to be. Well worth watching for the first half-hour. Touch and go after that. ** 1/2

Robert Beveridge
Robert Beveridge

I dream of a day when I have sheep in a yard near my house. Scratch that. I *used to* dream that. After 30 minutes of hearing sheep bleating, I could no longer watch this movie. Therefore, the dream of sheep is now dead for me.

Lisa Whelpley
Lisa Whelpley

A stunningly beautiful film documenting the life of sheepherders in Montana. The honesty of the film almost makes you want to cry.

Natalie Metzger
Natalie Metzger

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