Critic Reviews



Based on 10 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Norma Rae is that rare entity, an intelligent film with heart.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
This is Sally Field's movie. Her performance - hyperbole completely aside - is peerless, one of the major achievements by an actress in the movies of any place and of any time. Reuben tells Norma Rae that when he wants a smart, loud, profane, sloppy, hardworking woman he'll call on her. From now on, when directors want legerdemain that becomes art, they're going to call on Sally Field.[10 Mar 1979]
Norma Rae is a seriously concerned contemporary drama, illuminated by some very good performances and one, Miss Field's, that is spectacular.
Nicely performed by a strong cast, especially Field and Leibman, it's often mawkishly soft, but surprisingly touching.
The simple story is enlivened by an intelligent, compassionate screenplay, whose sole deficiency is that it makes no attempt to represent the management point of view. Field's performance is flawless.
Chicago Tribune
Norma Rae is not a bad film, just one that made me angry for what it might have been. Imagine another, more skillful actor, say Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino, in Leibman's part; then strip away some of the more broadly drawn scenes, and Norma Rae could have been yet another fine film by director Martin Ritt ("Hud," "Sounder," and "Conrack"). [2 March 1979, p.4-12]
It's a dear and corny story, played with lovable grubbiness by Sally Field and Ron Leibman.
Photographed in murky yellows and browns by John Alonzo, this 1979 film is sluggish and vague, trivializing its subject in a wash of unearned sentimentality.
Washington Post
As a rule, the filmmakers manufacture fake climaxes every 10 or 15 minutes, poop out and lapse into forgetfulness, just as if they were structuring the material for television. Norma Rae seems to reflect the confusion of veteran filmmakers so eager to please that they cease to think straight.
Field comes off best under the circumstances - she has real spirit - but Leibman, too eager to be liked, hits all the stereotypes on the head and Bridges is saddled with an underwritten, utterly inexplicable character. What Norma Rae really tells us is that Hollywood is still capable of making condescending paeans to the "little people" with all the phoniness of yesteryear. [5 March 1979, p.105]

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