Director Terry Gilliam's movies usually have a distinctive style: if you're channel-surfing and encounter the middle of Time Bandits or 12 Monkeys, you instantly know it's a Gilliam film even if you can't figure out which one right away. Even The Brothers Grimm, perhaps Gilliam's weakest film, retains a diluted version of that style. But if no one had told me that Tideland was a Terry Gilliam film, I might not have guessed. Many of his usual themes are present, but the visuals and for the most part, the dialogue, are not quite in his usual style.
Tideland is also an exceptionally difficult movie to watch, much harder than Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was stylized and surreal and almost cartoonish at times. This movie contains some very real, appalling situations, which have the potential to leave you feeling repelled, disgusted, and uncomfortable. (Don't eat during the movie.) As a result, it took me at least 24 hours to realize that Tideland is a very good film, and although I didn't exactly like it, I'm glad I saw it. Some of the images and scenes can stick in your head for days. (It was the same experience I had after seeing Pulp Fiction: I loathed it for a couple of days, then realized the movie was still sticking with me, and eventually came to appreciate it.)