Critic Reviews

65

Metascore

Based on 14 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
The film sweeps us up like a thriller, forcing us to at least ask whether terrorism like the ELF's (which targeted property, never human lives) might ever be justified.
90
Village Voice
Takes us through reams of fascinating drama, from the first heroic forest-saving protests to the reactive police violence and resulting dead-of-night firebombs to the core group's implosion after the FBI tightens the net.
80
The film's sobriety and carefully balanced arguments make it an exemplary piece of reporting, although its emotional heat rarely rises to a boil.
80
Salon.com
A remarkably evenhanded story about an eager young activist who was drawn down a slippery slope toward property destruction and violence, and who wound up as a baffled defendant in a widely publicized federal terrorism case.
63
Slant Magazine
While it may not pack the rollicking drama of his first feature, Street Fight, Marshall Curry's timely If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front likewise chronicles the personal tale behind political headlines.
60
Boxoffice Magazine
Instead of a topic documentary, If a Tree Falls becomes the personal story of a well-intentioned man whose passion for the environment leads to serious consequences.
60
The Hollywood Reporter
Curry and co-editor Matthew Hamachek assemble the wide-ranging material into an informative, compelling story line, although details about McGowan's upbringing and early years in the environmental movement slow the narrative down and some of the footage of McGowan puttering around his sister's apartment proves too mundane to hold much interest.
60
Considering its incendiary subject, Curry's approach is disarmingly tame; perhaps reframing the debate in less volatile terms is some kind of lukewarm triumph.
60
Despite their efforts to address most sides of this complex story, each new interview leaves us wanting to know even more. Of course, that's the sign of a compelling film - but in this case, not an altogether satisfying one.
50
Variety
Lacks the passion of previous Marshall Curry films ("Racing Dreams," "Street Fight") -- something mirrored in his principal character, but also something that keeps the documentary from being as sharp as it might have been, or as up-to-date.

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