Critic Reviews

65

Metascore

Based on 18 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
A potent and well-executed drama.
75
New York Post
Gansel based the film on the memories of one of his grandfathers. The acting is believable; the photography, atmospheric; and the moral, unmistakable.
75
All the paraphernalia so important to the image of the Reich, particularly the uniforms, are painstakingly rendered, bringing a heightened sense of realism to what might otherwise have been a romantic coming-of-age tale.
70
The A.V. Club
It's an emotionally chilly movie with a blank, inexpressive protagonist, but it gains cumulative force en route to a viscerally moving climax.
70
If Before the Fall feels a tad overdetermined, it also feels emotionally honest. Calmly and carefully, Mr. Gansel makes large points with small scenes.
70
Chicago Reader
The hero (played with the right amount of adolescent insouciance by Max Riemelt) is a working-class boy admitted to one of the academies for his formidable boxing skills, and through him director Dennis Gansel captures the ordinariness of Hitler's supporters.
70
This well-made World War II film from Germany is both a coming-of-age story and a critique of National Socialist ideology.
63
New York Daily News
The homoerotic relationship between Friedrich and Albrecht is stopped short by tragedy, but the point is made - to Friedrich and the audience - that fascism has no room for humanity.
50
Variety
An intermittently gripping story about an idealistic young boxer who becomes disillusioned with the Third Reich during his elite training, Napola is finally KO'd by an overdose of Nazi fetishism.
40
Village Voice
The movie is too middlebrow to show us the superman-type sexual heroics they must've engaged in, or even allow the illicit subtext to float to the surface (as Sokurov does in Father and Son)--instead we get tepid moralizing on dehumanization in the military.

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