Critics Consensus

Gracefully assembled and ultimately disquieting, Timbuktu is a timely film with a powerful message.



Reviews Counted: 116

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User Ratings: 9,568


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Movie Info

Not far from the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu, now ruled by the religious fundamentalists, proud cattle herder Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino) lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima (Toulou Kiki), his daughter Toya (Layla Walet Mohamed), and Issan (Mehdi Ag Mohamed), their twelve-year-old shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family are being spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny changes abruptly in this stunningly rendered film from a master of world cinema. (C) CohenMedia

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News & Interviews for Timbuktu

Critic Reviews for Timbuktu

All Critics (116) | Top Critics (33)

For a film that makes you sick with dread, Timbuktu has a light, at times glancing touch.

Dec 30, 2015 | Full Review…

Sissako creates an interrelated series of characters and tableaux giving us scenes from the life of a traumatised nation.

May 28, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Director Abderrahmane Sissako, a Muslim from neighboring Mauritania, has made a movie that is worthy of comparisons on several levels to Terrence Malick's wheat-field tragedy "Days of Heaven."

Mar 19, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

The performances are hushed and memorable. Cinematographer Sofian El Fanicaptures the beauty of this desert land. Amine Bouhafa's score is its own act of gorgeous grace and defiance.

Mar 13, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4

Even though the atrocities committed by radical jihadists dominate the headlines and airwaves, few in the West know what it's like to live under their reign. Timbuktu...is a moving, haunting and beautifully shot peek behind the closed cultural curtain.

Feb 26, 2015 | Rating: 5/5

This is the clash of ancient and modern, of rulers and ruled, of rabid dogma and the joys of daily life. It is a portrait of the ugly folly of imposed ideology, a too-common condition for far too many.

Feb 20, 2015 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Detroit News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Timbuktu

A devastating portrait of religious hell as a place under the rule of jihadists who employ abuse, intimidation and horrendous punishments on those who disobey their abominable laws - proof that, as Steven Weinberg said it, "for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The film's narrative proves to be a strong argument against religious extremism (essentially by arguing that no one could ever follow such strict rules to the letter, even those enforcing them) despite never feeling that it has an ax to grind.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

In a city in the middle of the desert, so-called Islamist militants have occupied it by gunpoint and started issuing arbitrary restrictions, leading up to the most serious punishment for adultery. At the same time, they show no respect for the residents' traditions while quoting Koran verses out of context to suit their own nefarious purposes. For example, Abdelkerim(Abel Jafri) looks in on a married woman whenever he knows her husband is not at home which she finds offensive. With his previous film "Bamako" and now his latest "Timbuktu," director Abderrahmane Sissako has lots to say which is always commendable. What is not so much except for some memorable imagery like a soccer game being played without a ball and a woman with a big bird on her shoulder blocking the way of an SUV is his still not quite figuring out how to put his thoughts into a narrative context which Margaret Atwood did so well in her similarly themed novel 'A Handmaid's Tale.' In fact, "Timbuktu" has little momentum at all, simply circling back to the deer hunt at the beginning of the movie. This is a shame because there is a lot here that could certainly be considered relevant.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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