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Cowards Bend the Knee

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Canada · 2003
1h 4m
Director Guy Maddin
Starring Darcy Fehr, Melissa Dionisio, Tara Birtwhistle, Louis Negin
Genre Drama, Romance

Guy takes his girlfriend Madea to a makeshift abortion clinic operating from the back of a bordello run by a woman named Lilliom. Guy soon forgets his girlfriend, falling in love with Lilliom’s daughter Meta. However, Meta won’t let Guy touch her until he murders those responsible for the death of her father.

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What are critics saying?


Variety by

Ultimately, psychotically inventive pic is a formidable addition to the ever-evolving Maddin oeuvre.


Village Voice by J. Hoberman

What's truly extraordinary about this movie--which strikes me on two viewings as Maddin's masterpiece--is that it not only plays like a dream but feels like one.


New York Daily News by Jami Bernard

It's said to be an autobiography, but that pertains only in the loosest sense. It's a comedy. It's a 1920s silent movie. It is practically indescribable. And it is pure genius.


TV Guide Magazine by Ken Fox

Oddly, once removed from the museum setting and strung together into an hourlong feature, it's Maddin's most cohesive narrative.


The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

There is also something rather splendid about this extended-play peep show, as if Mr. Maddin had stumbled across a hitherto lost archive of cinema's less-than-innocent past. What makes all this nostalgia for a movie history that never happened is that, as is always the case with Mr. Maddin's work, it's executed with more love than irony and not a whit of derision.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Paula Nechak

If you're a fan of Maddin's expressionist style, you'll find the humor within. Everyone else will be scratching their heads, despite Maddin's extraordinary visual imagination.


The A.V. Club by Scott Tobias

Abortion, incest, infidelity, revenge, and hockey collide at a fever pitch, juxtaposed with such frantic energy that they're pushed to the level of high comedy, funniest at its most dramatic.