Review summaries of the motion picture
Time Magazine's Richard Schickel: "Well played and handsomely realized, Mother Night is a true movie rarity -- an attempt to grapple seriously yet entertainingly with some of the complexities of modern morality. Its screen adaptation by Robert B. Weide (is) fastidiously faithful to Vonnegut's narrative."
Rolling Stone's Peter Travers: "Buoyed by Robert B. Weide's sharp script (Mother Night) maintains Vonnegut's delicate balance of moral gravity and twisted humor."
Christian Science Monitor's David Sterritt: (Rated one of the Ten Best Films of the Decade) "Intelligent and absorbing. Mother Night stands with the year's best American pictures. Bravo to all."
N.Y. Times's Janet Maslin: "Thoughtful and ambitious. From a screenplay by Robert B. Weide... Mother Night finds strength in its taste for the unexpected."
L.A. Times' Jack Matthews: "Mother Night is a dark and disturbing tale. The script by Robert Weide has made no compromises."
Atlantic Monthly's Ella Taylor: "(From) Robert B. Weide's witty and faithful screenplay... Mother Night captures perfectly Vonnegut's shifts between darkness and light, tragedy and comedy, and his shattering of the moral complacency that divides the world into heroes and villains."
USA Today's Andy Seiler: "A provocative and engrossing story. Screenwriter Robert B. Weide stays faithful to Kurt Vonnegut's novel and characters, his skewed satire and fondness for contradiction. Mother Night takes startling turns and poses unexpected questions. You may be intrigued by your own answers."
Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck: "The works of Kurt Vonnegut pose a particular challenge for filmmakers, particularly in this era of blandly homogenized American movies. Fortunately, this adaptation of his classic story Mother Night avoids all the pitfalls and is a triumph for all concerned. It works on a multitude of levels. It's an enormously difficult balancing act for a film, and Robert B. Weide's skillful screenplay never makes a false step."
Dramalogue's Abbie Bernstein: "Screenwriter Robert B. Weide's adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel has a keen sense of irony that still allows for a good amount of poignancy. Mother Night has a bracingly original plot and a lot of intelligent questions on its mind... an inventive and thought-provoking tale that grows in effectiveness as it goes."
New Times's Andy Klein (Los Angeles): "Robert B. Weide's adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel cleaves faithfully to the spirit of the book. Mother Night is well made and effective. Every major incident in the book is present."
Baltimore Sun: "Adapted by Robert B. Weide, (Mother Night) manages to capture what is so brilliant about Vonnegut at his best: his blackness of temperament as demonstrated through his sharpness of wit."
Washington D.C. Journal: "Vonnegut's uniquely twisted literary works have not been easily adapted screen fodder ...(but) screenwriter Robert B. Weide sustains the shrewd premise and coaxes out the dark Vonnegutian satire in the drama. Vonnegut's presence can be felt throughout in the script's unflinching observations."
New York Law Journal's Neil Hirsch: "Mr. Vonnegut is not an easy writer to adapt to the screen, but Mother Night manages to avoid the pitfalls. Robert B. Weide's screenplay captures the multi-layered essence of Mr. Vonnegut's writing. It's one of the few movies this year requiring a second viewing."
San Francisco Chronicle's Edward Guthmann: "It took guts to transfer Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 dark fantasia of a novel to the screen. Gordon and Weide trace Campbell's tale over four decades. It's an admirable adaptation... a perfect emblem of (Vonnegut's) themes and vision of the world."
Brooks Newspapers: "Combining elements of thriller, romance, mystery and absurdist comedy, Mother Night avoids the cliche'd pitfalls and emerges as a triumph, particularly for screenwriter Robert B. Weide whose subtle script is actually a maze, filled with surprising twists and turns... Challenging and provocative."
Ft. Lauderdale Eastsider: "With unflagging intelligence, wit and grace, screenwriter Robert Weide and director Keith Gordon have brought Mother Night to the screen. Adapting any novel to film is challenging, and in Vonnegut's case would seem doubly daunting (his literary voice is so distinct), but Weide and Gordon have pulled it off. Mother Night never loses its grip. This is one of the year's most fascinating and compelling films, a challenging yet uniquely affecting work."
Chelsea Clinton News: "Brilliant... It is a tribute to screenwriter Robert B. Weide (and of course, Vonnegut's original novel) that the story is kept compelling and funny."
Improper Bostonian: "Screenwriter Robert B. Weide's adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel... is fleshed out with intelligence and intensity."
Chicago Daily Southtown: "Adapting great books to the screen is a tricky business. With Mother Night, director Keith Gordon and screenwriter Robert B. Weide take on the challenge of Kurt Vonnegut. That they succeed in that challenge is a pleasant surprise. That they succeed so fully seems like a small miracle... High praise is due screenwriter Weide for bringing so much of Vonnegut's dark humor to the dialogue."
Chicago Daily Herald: "In the spoon-fed, sound-bite entertainment media culture of the moment, Mother Night sticks out like a Henry James sentence published in USA Today. Director Gordon and screenwriter Robert Weide shrewdly preserve the ambiguity of their source material, preferring to leave maddening questions of villainy or heroism to the viewers. Its cagey, very Vonnegut off-center kilter burns in the brain long after you see it."
Palm Beach Post (Florida): "Capturing (Vonnegut's) blend of the somber and the whimsical is difficult, but it has been cracked with surprising ease by director Gordon and screenwriter Robert B. Weide. While taking plenty of liberties with the novel, Weide's script captures its tongue-in-cheek bleakness extremely well."
KIRO-FM Radio (Seattle): "Gordon and screenwriter Robert B. Weide have an uncommon insight into Vonnegut's material: the mesh of fact and fiction, the sweeping themes, the tragic goofiness."
WNBC's Jeffrey Lyons (NYC): "It captures the essence of the novel. You take a big chance when you put a Kurt Vonnegut novel on screen. But this time they came up a winner. It's a film I hope people will see."
Detroit Metro Times: "Superb... Robert B. Weide's taut script deftly captures Vonnegut's moral ambiguity... brilliant."
Bergen Record: "Director Gordon and writer Robert B. Weide have defied the odds: They have captured the heart and spirit of the book wonderfully and made a brilliant film in the process. Weide's script deftly captures the humor, darkness and humanity that makes Vonnegut the gifted writer he is. The script is so good, in fact, it is easy to leave the theater thinking that Vonnegut wrote it."
Detroit Jewish News: Robert Weide leaves his mark with this script, adapting an author deemed "unadaptable." Mother Night is way ahead of the game."
San Francisco Examiner's Barbara Shulgsser: "With a script adapted by Robert B. Weide from Kurt Vonnegut's novel, the film comments on the meaning of evil, the meaning of loyalty, the connection between poetry and politics and the whimsicality of fate."
Houston Chronicle: "Robert B. Weide supplied Gordon with the screenplay of Mother Night. Together they do as well by Vonnegut as the relentlessly literal medium of film will allow."
Cincinnati Enquirer: "It has taken 35 years to bring Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 novel Mother Night to the screen, but the story has lost none of its potency over the years. Director Gordon ... nails the emotional tone, helped by the script from Robert Weide."
Now Magazine (Toronto): "Screenwriter Robert B. Weide and director Keith Gordon have pulled off a tricky act. Vonnegut's books seldom make it to the screen, and this creative duo is able to represent the weird, absurdist humor of the novel while still highlighting the story's moral and ethical question."
People Magazine's Ralph Novak: "Squirrelly, strikingly original and utterly fascinating this spy thriller-comedy-fantasy will make a lot of people think."
US Magazine: "Dark humor and ethical dilemmas propel Mother Night, an admirable and involving screen adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 novel. (It has) the what-happens-next tension of a page turner."
Penthouse Magazine: "It is a thriller -- not only of war and espionage, but of the soul -- with no chase scenes or shoot-outs. Its tension comes from the unbelievable turns it takes in stripping off the layers of a man who is never himself."
Brooklyn Spectator: "Mother Night is a powerful film document, a mesmerizing story of deception and identity coupled with responsibility and guilt. It all adds up to a fascinating, worthwhile time at the movies."
Phoenix Gazette: "Readers who enjoy Vonnegut's odd combination of humor and pain will not want to miss the faithful Mother Night."
L.A. Daily News: "A thought-provoking drama on the nature of heroism and the crushing weight of conscience, Mother Night, based on Kurt Vonnegut's book, works equally well as an absorbing spy thriller, a tragic love story and a rumination on evil committed for the sake of good. True to Vonnegut's spirit, it's also subversively humorous."
New York Post's Michael Medved : "This complex movie is both wickedly funny and profoundly disturbing... leaves audiences challenged and haunted."
Entertainment Today (L.A.): "Mother Night manages to convey all of the bleakness surrounding World War II, with no bloodshed, no concentration camps -- not even a mushroom cloud."
Seattle Press-Intelligence: "Surprisingly, Hollywood has tended to steer clear of Vonnegut. But this faithful take on Vonnegut's 1961 novel works so well in almost every department that it could unleash a deluge of movie-Vonnegut... A daring, intelligent and highly entertaining movie."
North County Times (San Diego): "Mother Night embraces many ideas. Delivered with equal respect to the story's dark tragedy and the weird colorful imagery Vonnegut uses to convey his themes, Mother Night is a harrowing tale, peppered with odd tangents peculiar to Vonnegut. It's a gripping story, speaking to the power of the conscience."
St. Louis Dispatch: "This is a tough movie, at times a harrowing one. It asks important questions, and generally asks them without flinching. It's also, at times, quite funny."
Boston Herald: "Mother Night is an unusually unconventional and rewarding World War II movie."
Toronto Star: "[T]he filmmakers have captured the essence of Vonnegut's darkly comic vision of a man - and, by extension, all of us - struggling to discover whether his actions make him a hero or a villain."
Buffalo News: "Mother Night is a fascinating, darkly funny and powerful movie. This movie really moves. It has a quickness of idea and narrative reflexes that no amount of cinematic fancy stuff can approach."