The lead performances could hardly be better: Gosling, having stolen and propped up entire movies last year ("Murder by Numbers" and "The Believer"), crackles with the economical intensity of a young Tim Roth. Morse, who has racked up decades worth of idiosyncratic character parts, is monumental in this career-peak turn.
The New York Times
A bleak, lyrical meditation on the frontier spirit and American machismo and its torments.
The A.V. Club
Though some of Slaughter Rule's conclusions are overly tidy, the film's powerful meditation on masculinity gets much of its credibility and punch from the two leads, especially Morse, a reliable character actor who sinks his teeth into a role with heavy physical and psychological demands.
Actor David Morse establishes himself as a truly formidable presence in this powerful first feature by Alex and Andrew Smith.
Christian Science Monitor
This well-acted melodrama paints a convincing portrait of its Montana milieu, and its best scenes suggest real insights into the paradoxical attitudes toward masculinity and sexuality that American men often feel compelled to assume.
New York Daily News
What it offers are dozens of intimate moments that feel so true, they achieve a rare kind of grace. This sensitive indie drama was written and directed by brothers - and first-time feature filmmakers.
Los Angeles Times
Has the virtue of sincerity but not that of restraint. Unlike Terrence Malick, whose shadow looms over the film's visual style, the Smiths over-explain, not grasping that all those barren fields and blood-red clouds are doing plenty of work for them.
New York Post
A good-looking, if imperfectly plotted, coming-of-age feature -- that doesn't quite manage to sidestep the clichéd sport-as-metaphor-for-life trap.
This bleak debut feature from writer-directors Alex and Andrew Smith would be all but impossible to sit through if it weren’t for Ryan Gosling and Clea Duvall.
Strong performances, a few dramatically potent scenes and a vividly specific evocation of locale barely offset hackneyed and muddled elements in a script that plays like a first draft.