How to Write a Film Review for the Silver Screen


at the movies.jpg

Sing Snap

As with most forms of writing, you need to begin by identifying your genre, purpose & structure, style & audienceThe below guidelines will enable you to write a successful film review in 3 easy steps.


Is to familiarise yourself with the genre, and how the film compares with the classics from its own genre. For example, is it horror or sci-fi or drama? Or does it belong in the gangster/crime subgenre? Like The Godfather or Goodfellas that are often cited not only as the greatest films of their own genre, but also make up AFI’s 100 Greatest Films. The only way to gain a greater understanding of the each genre is to watch different types of films, then read the published reviews for each of them.


Is to identify the purpose & structure of each of these reviews, which can be broken down into four distinct categories: to inform, to describe, to analyse and to advise.

To Inform:

The review needs to inform your readership which actors are in the film and who directed it, but also the source material, is the script adapted from a best selling novel, or it the work of an auteur, such as Woody Allen or Quentin Tarantino?

To Describe:

The review should describe the plot, the main characters and some of the set action sequence, but without providing any plot spoilers that will undoubtedly outrage your readership.

To Analyse:

A quality review elicits an opinion as to whether the film is good or bad and why. But it also provides evidence to justify your argument, rather than just a platform to rant your concerns.

To Advise:

Finally, the review should advise the reader whether or not to see the film, and its release date. Furthermore it should address if it’s a mainstream or art-house release, which will determine a general release or a selected independent cinema release?


Once the structure is complete, you need to determine the style & audience. If it’s personal, address the reader as ‘you’. The language used in a publication for a magazine or newspaper will be informal, targeting a general audience. However if it’s an academic piece then the language used will be formal, targeting a professional audience.


Dave Koz


Always take notes during the screening or straight after so you don’t forget key plot points. Furthermore, because critiquing is a fairly subjective process, allow 24 hours before you commence writing the review. This will allow the emotional content for your writing to settle, and provide a more balanced approach when voicing your opinion. Finally, proofread your piece prior to publication, as with any form of writing, you need to ensure there are no grammatical errors.



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