Movie Review – Waiting for the Barbarians (2019)

JulieGAugust 11, 20206 min

IMDb Rating: 5.9/10

1h 52min | Drama | 07 Aug 2020 (USA) | Movie

Metacritic: 53/100

Rotten Tomatoes Rating:  55% Rotten (Critic Reviews), 74 % Fresh (Audience Reviews)

Director: Ciro Guerra

Writer: J.M. Coetzee

Stars: Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson

Movie Tagline:

IMDb summary: A Magistrate working in a distant outpost begins to question his loyalty to the empire.


Waiting for the Barbarians is an interesting title for this film because it can mean several things. The most obvious is “waiting for the Barbarians to attack” which is partially what this film is about, but it can also mean something entirely different which has a much darker meaning. If you know what we’re referring to, let us know in the comments!

The film follows Mark Rylance’s Magistrate, who seems to be a fairly easy-going dude who has fully assimilated into the culture of the people inhabiting the outpost he has been tasked with protecting. He seems to run things relatively smoothly until Colonel Joll bursts his bubble, and that’s when things begin to look a little bleak for the Magistrate.

The side-story of the Magistrate taking care of a random, homeless “barbarian” woman seemed to deviate from the main plot and didn’t really add any value to the story. So we scratched our heads a little there because we weren’t sure where the writer was going with that part of the film.


Robert Pattinson as Joll’s right-hand man was a minor character, but vicious enough to make his impact in this film. And something also must be said of the cinematography, because it’s breathtakingly beautiful once the characters move beyond the outpost’s walls.

Although this film is rather average overall, there are some exceptional performances by its cast, namely Mark Rylance as the Magistrate and Johnny Depp as Colonel Joll.

It’s a unique role for Depp as one is used to seeing him sporting his Captain Jack Sparrow pirate costume more often than not. So it’s nice to see him taking on something different and portraying Colonel Joll with all the talent we know he has. Mark Rylance is amazing in his role as the Magistrate, and the most interesting part of this film is how his character interacts with that of straight-laced and sadistic Colonel Joll.

Not awful, but not great, we’re giving this film the rating an “okay” viewing experience it deserves.


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