Critic Reviews



Based on 12 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
This is a challenging, brilliantly constructed film that, despite its patience and quiet tone, is engrossing from its first moments, especially an opening scene that encapsulates Jandal's poignant contradictions.
The hidden message of The Oath is so inescapable as to be Shakespearean: Character will out.
Her film is just as effective as a portrait of two unknowable, individual souls caught up in events of global scale.
Jandal emerges as someone who was truly in Bin Laden's inner circle, Hamdan seems the menial driver he claimed to be. What remains unanswered is where their allegiances now lie. Frightening or not, terrorists or not, both seem human, which at the end of the day is what Poitras set out to do.
Time Out New York
What emerges is an illuminating, though terribly dismaying, portrait of the War on Terror's lasting effects. Whether one retreats or steps out defiantly, there is no sanctuary.
Village Voice
Early in Laura Poitras's outstanding documentary The Oath, we learn that one of its subjects, Abu Jandal, a cabdriver living in Yemen, was Osama bin Laden's bodyguard in Afghanistan.
Fascinating, however uneasy, viewing.
Quietly, the film makes the case that "enhanced interrogation techniques" were no enhancement. Interviewing jihadis "by the book," one interrogator testifies, yielded better information than violence and deprivation.
At first, The Oath looks as though it will be a study of the soul-corroding effects of twisted ideology, but it emerges as the reverse.
By focusing on the human aspect of Al-Qaeda, The Oath does give the viewer something to think about, but the film is unsatisfying, raising questions and providing too few answers.

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