Critic Reviews



Based on 34 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Mike Leigh brings an overwhelming simplicity and severity to this historical epic, which begins with rhetoric and ends in violence. There is force, grit and, above all, a sense of purpose; a sense that the story he has to tell is important and real, and that it needs to be heard right now.
There is a danger of filing Peterloo away as an “important film” – but it is also a complex, rousing and rewarding one for anyone prepared to meet it on its own unapologetically ambitious terms.
This magnificently-realised film moves from feeling like a long, dry history lesson to becoming an angrily-direct and emotional tribute to the reformers of the past.
As a historical account it is unvarnished without feeling dry or academic, and as a coded satire of the contemporary British political climate it is urgent and deeply impassioned.
Leigh translates the defining moment–and those in the immediate lead-up–to the screen with tremendous weight and great clarity, making the sense of tragedy all the more potent.
When Peterloo’s unaligned fingers form a fist, for a punching, unyielding, robustly choreographed finale of rage against the right-wing machine, the film makes good on its most taxing demands.
The intent is noble and the attention to detail admirable, but the overall effect is obstinately unmoving.
Time Out
The authenticity is immersive, even if the historical exposition occasionally feels like prep for an exam no one’s warned you about.
While Leigh transports you back to 1819 through these rich characters, he simply tests the audience’s patience in getting to the heart of the story. There is an abundance of formal speeches and long monologues in the film, and they are often arduous and repetitive.
Mike Leigh’s expansive, exhaustive, and extraordinarily thorough portrait of early 19th-century political activism is, to put it one way, deliberate in pace and tone. To put it bluntly — and in an argot more readily familiar to its cast of working-class characters — the film is bloody well dull.

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