Critic Reviews



Based on 8 critic reviews provided by
It’s to the film’s credit that it creates a sense of high-stakes peril despite us knowing the rough outcome from the get-go, and largely without simplifying its moral dilemmas into straightforward choices between heroism and villainy.
Although James' muted performance comes across as a bit lifeless alongside Kingsley's more colorful, masterfully modulated turn, the characterizations nevertheless allow for satisfyingly complex, real-world renderings of conventional heroes and villains.
"Backstabbing” makes an interesting run at painting the many shades of grey in this corner of diplomacy.
The most thrilling aspect of director Per Fly's drama is watching the interactions between co-stars Theo James and Ben Kingsley. Even as James sucks all the energy out of the room with his inert performance, Kingsley creates oxygen with his dynamic, wildly entertaining turn.
There are so many ideas rattling around in Backstabbing for Beginners that are never resolved, and so many duplicitous characters that are never satisfactorily explained, that the end result is a muddle of confusion and violence that could end the future of tourism in Baghdad forever.
Village Voice
The film is less a distillation of the real Soussan’s memoir than a radical simplification of it.
Slant Magazine
It fills the screen with a series of explicative conversations set in offices, hotels, and cars throughout which people don’t so much talk to each other as indirectly to the audience.
Poor genre efforts like Backstabbing for Beginners hurt cinema’s chance to survive and thrive as the greatest medium for storytelling.

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