The Act Of Killing (2013)



Critic Consensus: Raw, terrifying, and painfully difficult to watch, The Act of Killing offers a haunting testament to the edifying, confrontational power of documentary cinema.

Movie Info

Anwar Congo and his friends have been dancing their way through musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodelling cowboys. Their foray into filmmaking is being celebrated in the media and debated on television, even though Anwar Congo and his friends are mass murderers. Medan, Indonesia. When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: Joshua Oppenheimer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 3, 2013
Box Office: $0.5M
Drafthouse Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Act Of Killing

All Critics (133) | Top Critics (35)

Bizarre, hypnotic, audacious.

Full Review… | December 16, 2013
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The emotional places this troubling movie takes him to are rewardingly primal and potent, forcing both subject and viewer to wrestle with internal demons.

Full Review… | December 16, 2013
Time Out
Top Critic

I certainly do not move that the film should be suppressed, only that one should know what it is. It is a bath in a smiling madness.

Full Review… | November 14, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

A warped phantasmagoria of denial that is essential viewing, even though it's almost impossible to watch.

Full Review… | April 28, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

Maddening, sorrowful, brilliant, and unforgettable.

Full Review… | April 8, 2014
Movie Mezzanine

The film of the year, if not the decade, if not documentary history.

Full Review… | February 7, 2014
Concrete Playground

Audience Reviews for The Act Of Killing

Documentarians ask the leaders of Indonesian death squads to reenact their crimes.
There are some incredibly absurd moments in the reenactments of various fifty-year-old murders, including one of the henchmen dressing up in drag for no discernible reason. But the heart of this documentary is compelling the film's primary subject to face his own flagging, ignored conscience. It takes a while, and there are blithe pronouncements about death and killing that make one's stomach turn, but the film eventually pays off.
Overall, the gimmick of the film, the reenactments, seems a little weird, but the premise is still compelling.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

These may be the most absurd two hours of film I'll ever see. Though this documentary follows many mass murderers as they set out to make a movie boasting about their genocidal slaughters, it focuses in on Anwar Congo. Among these killers, Anwar made the biggest name for himself with his apathy and creativity. At the beginning of the documentary, he upholds his image as an untouchable, joyful and easy-going celebrity "free man." With a smile and tools in hand, he casually recalls and demonstrates his methods. Over the course of these two hours however, his internal transformation is the only thing that will make any sense. The footage here is astounding, and raises an overwhelming amount of questions about Indonesia's history and it's current state, as well as America and the UK's own culpability.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

While extremely painful to watch, "The Act of Killing" displays a brutally honest story about the life of Anwar Congo, a gangster who helped the mob kill millions of communists. This film displays he himself re-enacting scenes of actual events that he remembers from the past. He puts on display for the world to see, the horrific ways of killing people and sometimes you feel like throwing up while you are watching. Anwar begins to realize that even though what he did back then was legal, he himself, after personally experiencing the effects, has a complete turn around with his feelings. This film is something that needs to be shown to the world, but only to those who are mature enough to view. I will never say I love this film, based on it's subject matter, but it is a brilliant documentary that almost feels like a shoe-in for the Oscars. "The Act of Killing" is superb in it's messages.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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