Skip to main content


Based on 16 Reviews
critic reviews (10)
fan reviews ( 1 )
  • 50
    Peter Travers Rolling Stone

    De Niro's decision to make Dwight a loony from the get-go throws the delicate symmetry of the story out of whack. show more

  • 88
    Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

    The movie is successful largely because [DiCaprio] is a good enough actor to hold his own in his scenes with De Niro, so that the movie remains his story, and isn't upstaged by the loathsome but colorful Dwight. show more

  • 88
    TV Guide

    In capturing the compelling battle between a boy and his abusive stepfather, director Michael Caton-Jones cannily avoids obvious sentimentality, opting to let a rather brutal story tell itself. show more

  • 75
    James Berardinelli ReelViews

    The film is well-paced and expertly edited, allowing scenes to flow naturally into one another. show more

  • 50
    Rick Groen The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

    The process of remembering that drives the book is gone from the film, boiled away until all that's left is the mundane residue of memory - mere incidents strung together as plot. show more

  • 60
    Angie Errigo Empire

    Despite its admirable strengths and the fact of it being a true story, there is somehow a failure to completely connect with the fierce boy, giving his unhappy and alienating youth an unfortunate air of unreality. show more

  • 50
    Marjorie Baumgarten Austin Chronicle

    Director Caton-Jones ("Scandal", "Memphis Belle") once again shows his flair for period detail though he never here exerts his grip on the human drama. show more

  • 50
    Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly

    For This Boy's Life to work as ominous domestic drama, it's essential that we see Dwight as a flesh-and-blood monster. De Niro, unfortunately, just seems to be reveling in the chance to play another viciously demented freak, like Cape Fear's Max Cady. show more

  • 90
    The New Yorker

    Barkin and DiCaprio are sensational. Every time De Niro threatens to take over the picture, they snatch our attention right back, and always with something casual: a look or a gesture that conveys how thoroughly this mother and son understand each other. show more

  • 80
    Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times

    He [Caton-Jones] has made the film all of a piece, making sure that the three lead performances complement rather than overwhelm each other. [9 Apr 1993, p.F1] show more

similar movies

  • Igby Goes Down (2002)

  • American Heart (1992)

  • Radio Flyer (1992)

  • The Damned United (2009)

  • An Education (2009)

Stay Connected with Moviefone

Download the Free App!

My Settings

You are currently subscribed as: {email}


Get the latest reviews, movie news, photos, and trailers sent straight to your inbox.

Weekly Newsletter

Daily alerts


You're not following any movies.

These are the movies you’re currently following.

    Update settings