While it may be about as subtle as a swinging sledgehammer, it does leave its mark.
-John HartlFull Review
A well-played if too-familiar story of oppression and injustice.
-Tom LongFull Review
A conventional but wholly gripping docudrama.
-Amy BiancolliFull Review
American Violet dramatizes Kelly's case, and does so in a way that will leave audiences applauding in their seats -- and wondering how much of the film is true.
-Jonathan CurielFull Review
Director Tim Disney and screenwriter Bill Haney lay out Dee's story with a minimum of fuss. They are smart enough to realize that the material is compelling all on its own.
-Peter RainerFull Review
A torn-from-the-headlines tale of institutional racism and injustice in the Lone Star State of not-so-long-ago, American Violet might not be subtle, but it's certainly powerful.
-Steven ReaFull Review
American Violet feels less like life and unreasonably more like the movies.
-Wesley MorrisFull Review
The narrative is infused with chilling facts, and the filmmakers know how to build their case, but a drama demands more.
-Betsy SharkeyFull Review
This flaw in the justice system might affect anyone, but American Violet shows how easily it can be racialized in a place where hardened social attitudes combine with drugs and poverty to create a permanent black underclass.
-J. R. JonesFull Review
Its blaring earnestness and thin characters (all of whom practically wear badges identifying them as good or evil) fail to add nuance to a story that keeps making the same point in virtually every predictable scene.
-Kyle SmithFull Review
The badly titled American Violet comes from filmmakers who had clearly made up their minds long before they had written a word. And it's aimed at people who have too, before they've seen a frame.
-Stephen WhittyFull Review
American Violet is a justice story, with some honest justice. It's nicely reassuring that it happens to be true.
-John AndersonFull Review
American Violet, which is based on real events that took place in late 2000, has the quasi-documentary feel of a well-made television drama.
-Stephen HoldenFull Review
What does it taste like? There's a slight aftertaste of force-feeding, to be sure. But mostly, thanks to excellent, nuanced performances by Beharie, Woodard, Nelson and Patton, it tastes like justice.
-Michael O'SullivanFull Review
A docudrama that may have an outcome we already know, but is a loud lesson about truth, justice and the Texas Way.
-Roger EbertFull Review
An artlessly powerful performance by newcomer Nicole Behaire anchors American Violet, an instructive, sturdily built drama based on a true story worth teaching.
-Lisa SchwarzbaumFull Review
A harrowing, compelling and profoundly true story that dares to tackle an important but too rarely exposed issue of the abuse of power in the American criminal justice system.
-Rex ReedFull Review
A docudrama with a good heart but a heavy hand.
-Melissa AndersonFull Review
You can laugh at American Violet, but most defendants are scared into pleading guilty and need all the poster girls they can get.
-David EdelsteinFull Review
Its simplistic, heavy handed treatment of a complex issue gives it the weight of a contrived movie of the week melodrama.
Earnestly presented and well acted, particularly by newcomer Nicole Beharie in the central role, the film shares with many other such agenda-driven dramas a complete lack of narrative surprise, merely connecting the dots.
-Todd McCarthyFull Review
Less a social-problem film than a drama of personal courage.
-Kelly VanceFull Review
Nicole. Beharie. Remember the name, for if her stunning lead turn is any indication, huge things are in the future.
-Michael DequinaFull Review
[American Violet] is so compelling and intriguing that it's easy for the audience to forget they're being preached to.
-Sonny BunchFull Review
Put on your outrage cap.
-Robert W. Butler
It does almost everything well, from the direction to the performances. But it does nothing great, dragged down by an uninspired, and oddly uninspiring, script.
-Mike ScottFull Review
Newcomer Beharie gives a polished performance that deserves awards consideration.
-Keith CohenFull Review
It's not enough for a movie to have a Black cast for it to be good, it must have good writing, engaging stories and impassioned actors. This film has all three.
-Clay CaneFull Review