Kalifornia (1993) - Rotten Tomatoes


Kalifornia (1993)



Critic Consensus: Visually strong and featuring a potently feral performance from Brad Pitt, Kalifornia is a tonally uneven thriller marked by all-too-obvious themes.

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Movie Info

With writer Brian Kessler's (David Duchovny) contractual deadline for a book on serial killing fast approaching, he and girlfriend Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes) decide to embark on a cross-country tour of famous murder sites for inspiration. When the couple advertises for fellow travelers to help absorb expenses, the only response comes from greasy trailer park denizen Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and his girlfriend Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis). Only too late do Brian and Carrie realize just how close to serial murderers they're about to get.

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Brad Pitt
as Early Grayce
Juliette Lewis
as Adele Corners
David Duchovny
as Brian Kessler
Michelle Forbes
as Carrie Laughlin
Sierra Pecheur
as Mrs. Musgrave
Mars Callahan
as Walter Livesy
Judson Vaughn
as Parole Officer
Marisa Raper
as Little Girl
Catherine Larson
as Teenage Girl
Bill Crabbe
as Middle-Aged Farmer
Brett Rice
as Police Officer
Sarah Sullivan
as Bar Waitress
Lois Hall
as Mrs. Musgrave
Loanne Bishop
as Female Officer
Ron Kuhlman
as Male Officer
J. Michael McDougal
as John Diebold
John Dullaghan
as Mr. Musgrave
Eric Stenson
as Young Cracker
Patricia Hunte
as Newscaster
Jerry White
as Gas Station Attendant
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Critic Reviews for Kalifornia

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (6)

Pitt and Lewis have made an unfortunate choice for their first big-screen collaboration. In fact, the flashes of acting brilliance that they show in this messy, often-pretentious production are its only real points of interest.

May 30, 2019 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

The movie is a road trip that takes a bad turn to hell. Check it out.

September 12, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

[Kalifornia is] terrifying and horrifying, yes, but also unflinchingly honest, and so well acted that for most of the film I abandoned any detachment and just watched it as if I were observing the lives of real people.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Sena has a nifty knack for playing out major twists in a minor key.

June 24, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

It is pulpy trash masquerading as an art film, ultimately failing to be either.

April 18, 2019 | Full Review…

An uneven mess of a vehicle for its stars, one that did no favors for anyone starring, including Pitt.

March 21, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Kalifornia


Daniel J DeMersseman
Daniel J DeMersseman

Super Reviewer


Starting like a soft-core Red Shoe Diaries episode, the guitar score is less heart-throbbing and more chintzy. In a sociological study on murderous psychology, 'Kalifornia' delves headlong into sociopathic analysis (Duchovny asserts that serial killers can distinguish between right and wrong and they should receive the death penalty). These aspects of the film are intrinsically provocative. However, Duchovny's voiceover is a sleep tranquilizer like Harrison Ford's lukewarm narration in 'Blade Runner'. He waxes poetic about how serial killers "dream they can fly" and it sounds irredeemably pretentious. Pitt is superficial unkemptness as the hayseed Early and he is such a dimwit that he can hardly be classified as a threat (Early romanticizes California with claims that there "ain't no speed limits and the first month is rent free."). Anything spouted by Juliette Lewis is a juvenile stereotype of Southern yokels (she doesn't fathom the definition of the word "karma") and she is intolerable in the role. Early's parole officer with the hook appendage is extremely cartoonish. The cross-cutting of the two stories is awfully uneven since we are more enthralled with Early's impecunious trailer lifestyle than Brian's naïve obsessions. Truthfully, 'Kalifornia' is a vapid exercise in David Fincher style, but its declarations about the ill-bred origins of serial killers are shallow.

Cory Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer


Very few people would dare to question Brad Pitt's versatility today. That was different in the early 90s, when he was still underestimated as just another pretty face. Undeservedly so, as this early work in his oeuvre shows. He has hardly ever been as menacing, unpredictable and merciless as in this thriller about an author taking a road trip to famous murder sites and sharing gas costs with a white trash couple. As brilliant as Pitt is, he is even outshined by Juliette Lewis as dumb but sweet bimbo. As the trip turns more and more into a nightmare for the yuppie couple, the violence is ruthless, realistic and ugly, as in real life. While our protagonist ("Mulder" David Duchovny) is looking for an explanation for the mindset of serial killers, the film has no answers to the questions of the their motifs. Which just makes it even more unpleasant and important. Well done.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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