How to Critique a Movie: Tips + Film Critique Example

How to write a film critique essay? To answer this question, you should clearly understand what a movie critique is. It can be easily confused with a movie review. Both paper types can become your school or college assignments. However, they are different. A movie review reveals a personal impression of the viewer. A movie critique, in its turn, aims to discuss the means of film production and give advice on what could be changed to make the film better.

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Sounds challenging?

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This article by experts contains useful tips on how to critique a movie and a great film critique example. Read on to learn more!

Both movie review and movie critique are common assignments in high school and college; however, the former reveals the writer's personal impression, while the latter is less personal.

🎬 How to Critique a Movie: the Basics

Writing a movie critique means offering your insight and opinion on what was good and not that good with the movie and what made it intriguing to watch. There’s always something you like about the film and something you don’t. You may consider that the plot was good, but the special effects were horrible. Think of all the possible film production stages and try to look at them critically.

How to Critique a Movie: General Guidelines

  • Choose a movie
  • Specify the issues you are going to discuss and analyze in your paper
  • Watch the movie several times: first to get a general idea of the film; second – to pay attention to the points that come into your sphere of interest
  • Take notes while watching
  • During your second watch, note the details you weren’t able to notice the first time
  • Be specific
  • Be objective

Criticizing does not mean expressing negative emotions. Too much pessimism will kill the reader’s desire to get closely acquainted with your writing. Even though the movie could be a real failure, try to present a sophisticated evaluation.

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⚙️ Movie Critique: Key Elements of Any Film

Any film features several elements that you need to mention when you write your movie critique paper. Below in this section, you’ll find these elements’ descriptions and useful tips on analyzing them in your paper.

The key elements of any film are: plot, structure, characters, dialogues, and scenes.

How to Critique a Film’s Plot

The plot is the flow of events and actions that consequently develop in a story. To discuss the film’s plot in your movie critique, you need to do the following:

  • Decide whether the plot is predictable.
  • Define whether some actions were unpredictable.
  • If they were, express your views considering an unexpected turn of events that shocked you.
  • See if the story corresponds to the characters’ motivations.

How to Critique a Film’s Structure

The movie’s structure is how the parts relate to each other or how the plot is built. Remember that the structure encompasses the following parts:

  • Exposition (introducing the key characters and their circumstances)
  • Rising action (mounting tension that leads to the story’s climax)
  • Climax
  • Falling action
  • Denouement (a resolution that brings the story to an end)

How to Critique the Movie’s Characters

Characterization is the description of the characters’ personalities, beliefs, motivations, etc. To discuss the film’s characterization in your movie critique, you need to do the following:

  • Concentrate on specific movie characters.
  • Set your priorities: some movie characters do not need any serious analysis.
  • See if the characters’ dress, talk, act, or look corresponds with the impression they should create.
  • Remember that the better the characters are developed, the more character-driven the story is.
  • Consider that the right motivation of the characters makes the audience believe the story.

How to Criticize the Movie’s Dialogues

A dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters. To analyze the dialogues in your movie critique, do the following:

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  • Remember that good dialogues should not be protracted as they are to sound natural.
  • See if there is a logical development of the conversation.
  • Watch the body language of the actors and decide whether their gestures correspond to their words or not.

How to Criticize the Movie’s Scenes

A scene is a self-contained episode within a larger work. To discuss the scenes in your movie critique, you should do the following:

  • Determine whether the scenes were well-played by the actors and well-shot by the operator.
  • Mind that they are to develop smoothly as a part of a larger dramatic unit.
  • Remember that scenes should build a chain that makes up the story.
  • Examine if they contain some conflict and how the characters typically react to it.
  • Try to follow through each scene to make sure that it properly transitioned into the next one.

🧱 Movie Critique Outline

The general structure of a movie critique resembles the structure of an essay.

  • Start with an introduction. There you are to provide necessary information about the film, make a summary of the plot, state your thesis, and give readers a clue on what your critique will be about.
  • Divide the main body into several paragraphs. Explain your thesis there and examine each point separately. Do not forget to provide examples.
  • End writing your movie critique with a conclusion. It should summarize everything and give answers to the questions raised in the paper.

Go over your paper to eliminate factual and spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes. A good structure is a basis and a necessary condition of a successful paper.

💡 Top Phrases to Use while Writing a Film Critique

Now that you know all the essential elements of a movie critique structure, it’s high time to consider how to present your information in the most digestible and impressive way. A list of common phrases and set expressions in your movie critique writing will make your content more engaging, diverse, and easy to read.

Give your opinion on the topic and analyze the movie rather than just summarizing the content. Make use of persuasive words that would be helpful and appropriate to your readers.

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Movie Genre

  • Thriller
  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Adventure
  • Crime and Gangster
  • Epics/Historical
  • Horror
  • Western
  • Science
  • Musical

Producer, Director

  • Produced by…
  • Directed by…
  • The movie is expertly directed by…
  • This movie is based on a book…

Actors, Characters

  • Warm-hearted, appealing, fascinating
  • The characters were very convincing because…
  • Exceptional performance
  • Fervently performed
  • The performance of… in… is excellent

Film’s Plot

  • Well-directed, amusing, exciting, boring, clichéd, confusing, entertaining, exciting, melodramatic, thrilling, unbelievable, surprising, full of tension
  • The plot reaches a climax when…
  • Develop a story
  • Non-linear/fragmented narrative
  • Full of unexpected plot twists
  • One of the most unbelievable/entertaining moments in the film occurs when…

Assessment, Evaluation

  • A must-see/worth seeing/not to be missed/a smash hit/an impressive debut
  • An emotional movie/it brought tears to my eyes
  • A truly great/skillful piece of filmmaking
  • I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes…
  • On a scale from zero to five, I’d give this film a four because…
  • I strongly/highly recommend watching this film because…
  • If you like…, you shouldn’t miss this movie.
  • I certainly wouldn’t recommend the film, and here’s why…
  • Unfortunately, this movie is a complete waste of time because…
  • I was impressed/surprised by…

👀 Film Critique Examples

Below you’ll find a downloadable movie critique example. Other samples can be found here:

Movie Critique Example: Hitchcock’s North by Northwest


North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is considered one of the most prominent films in cinematography. This spy thriller combines darkness and light typical for Hitchcock movies: witty humor, love story, suspense, and mortal danger harmoniously merge in this thriller (Longacre 75). Starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, North by Northwest contains memorable acting performances, accentuating the director’s dexterity in creating suspense. North by Northwest is representative of Hitchcock’s entertaining talent, as it allows readers to escape into a world of international espionage thriving during the Cold War Era.

Film Analysis: Hitchcock's North by Northwest
Download the free sample

Movie Critique Essay Topics

  1. Review of the film The Corporation. 
  2. Philosophical questions in Through a Glass Darkly by Ingmar Bergman. 
  3. Discuss the symbolism in the film Hacksaw Ridge
  4. Analyze the impersonation of Elizabeth Bennet by Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  5. Evaluate the meaning of the setting in the movie Mean Girls by Mark Walters.  
  6. Explore the similarities and differences of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies. 
  7. Describe the characters of Duke Bill’s Not Easily Broken
  8. Analyze the rhetoric of the film Salt by Phillip Noyce
  9. Analyze the characters of the film The Green Mile.  
  10. Social mobility and racial biases in Paul Haggis’s film Crash.  
  11. Compare the semantic message of the movies West Side Story (1961) and Romeo + Juliet (1996). 
  12. The role of sound and costume choice in the film Inception by Christopher Nolan
  13. Examine the depiction of disproportionate female objectification in the documentary Miss Representation.  
  14. Discuss the techniques Fellini uses to depict the paradoxes and contradictions of the real world in his film La Dolce Vita.  
  15. The problem of selfhood and identity in the movie The Boy in The Striped Pajamas by Mark Herman. 
  16. The core theme of Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
  17. The serious messages in the comedies Educating Rita and Small-Time Crooks
  18. Describe the characters of The Wizard of Oz (1939).  
  19. Discuss the similarities and differences of the events in the film The Crucible and the real history of Salem.  
  20. Analyze the depiction of ethical dilemmas and emotional conflicts in the movie Juno
  21. The peculiarities of Martin Scorsese’s film The Aviator.  
  22. Allegory in Robert Redford’s film Lions for Lambs
  23. Critique of the film Secret Window. 
  24. The sociological significance of the Lone Survivor by Peter Berg
  25. Describe the filmmaking techniques used in the documentary film The Interrupters.  
  26. Analyze the significance of the opening scene of the Citizen Kane.  
  27. Examine the main woman character of David Fincher’s film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  28. Discuss the setting of Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton
  29. The main concepts of Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar.  
  30. Discuss the theme of the film Love, Simon by Greg Berlanti.  
  31. Explore the major theme and objectives of Blood Diamond by Edward Zwick. 
  32. The problem of choice in Gone Baby Gone by Ben Affleck.  
  33. Describe the filmmaking techniques used to portray a historical period in The Patriot.  
  34. Analyze the rhetorical strategies in Laurence Olivier’s film Henry V.  
  35. Discuss the philosophy of the film Les Intouchables. 
  36. Analyze the message of the film Home by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. 
  37. The role of visuals in the movie My Family/ Mi Familia
  38. Examine the rhetorical techniques used in Jordan Peele’s horror film Us
  39. Split: movie critique.  
  40. The importance of geography and landscapes in The Sound of Music by Robert Wise

Now you can confidently claim that you know how to write a movie critique and even have a whole list of helpful vocabulary you can include.
We hope that these tips were helpful and that your next critical paper about a movie will be a success. Be sure to check out our blog for more useful articles!

✏️ Movie Critique FAQ

❓ What is a film critique?

A film critique is an extended opinion about a movie. It is typically made in the form of a paper, article, or essay. Such papers are usually highly rated when written by respected professionals in the field.

❓ How to write a film critique?

If you are writing any paper, it is always a good idea to begin with an outline. If you are writing an essay for college, make sure that you have a clear structure. A typical structure includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

❓ How to criticize a movie?

When criticizing any visual artwork, follow these 4 steps:

  • Description,
  • Analysis,
  • Interpretation,
  • Judgment.

Identify a few aspects you want to focus on. It could be actors, music and sound, visual effects, plot peculiarities, etc.). Then, describe each point according to the four steps.

❓ How to critique acting in a movie?

If you are focusing on an actor’s performance in a particular film, make sure that your judgments are based not on the appearance or personal prejudice. Try to make a relatively objective assessment.

🔗 References

This article was developed by the editorial team of, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
Comments (39)


This article rocks. Thanks for the tips. Reading this gives me a reason to go on with my current situation.
Thank you loads.

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Glad to help, Susan!

Luke Luketer Nguhwar
Luke Luketer Nguhwar

This article is great, it has been very useful for me

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Thank you for your kind words, Luke! Glad the article was useful for you.

Nanette Anyomi
Nanette Anyomi

This was incredibly helpful! This article is a blessing!❤

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Thank you for your kind words, Nanette! Glad to help 🙂


Thank you for the information.

Julia Reed
Julia Reed

Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

Carmela Joy
Carmela Joy

I did a book critique a year ago because we were required to do so, but I was really confused about where should be the thesis statement should be taken from. And now that we are tasked to do a movie critique, again, I’m having a problem of where the thesis statement should be made or what thesis statement should be like. I hope you could help me. Thank you! By the way, these tips really are a big help. ☺

Julia Reed
Julia Reed

Thank you for the feedback 🙂 Here you can get help with your work from our professional team. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with them.

Mirwais rguni
Mirwais rguni

Thank you so much it was very useful.
Keep it on!

Julia Reed
Julia Reed

We will! That’s for sure 🙂 Thanks for your feedback.

Ahana Chatterjee
Ahana Chatterjee

This article is very much helpful. But I have a question, that is, should I give examples in every step of the critique like scenes, characters, dialogues, etc.? And if I think that the particular movie should be improved, should I mention all that? And if I feel that the actor has not performed the character well should I mention that? And if the name of the film is appropriate or not, should I explain that?

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Thank you for your feedback, Ahana! We’re glad that you found it to be useful. As for the examples – treat them just like in any scientific paper: the more examples, the better (but we suggest you limit that to just a couple of exemplary scenes per case – you don’t want the readers to be overloaded with facts). More examples are needed in the case if you think that the entire concept/idea that you’re proposing will be hard to grasp after just a couple of examples. The main point of the whole thing is to be sure that after reading your critique, the readers will not have any counter-arguments or doubts – or at least move them towards that direction. As for your other questions – yes to all of them, acting and any plot improvements refer to Scenes, Visual Presentations, Originality parts of our article. Thank you, we hope that our additional tips will be helpful:)

Nicholas Carrillo
Nicholas Carrillo

Good material!

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Thanks a lot, Nicholas! We’re glad that you find our articles to be useful:)

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