The Scapegoat

 (140)7.21 h 47 min201213+
Set in 1952, as England prepares for the Coronation, The Scapegoat tells the provocative story of two very different men who have one thing in common - a face. The Scapegoat is a morally complex, darkly comic and suspenseful movie featuring compelling performances from the film's ensemble cast.
Charles Sturridge
Matthew RhysEileen AtkinsAnton Lesser
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Jodhi MayPhoebe NichollsAlice Orr-Ewing
Dominic MinghellaSarah Beardsall
Kew Media Distribution
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Violencesexual contentdrug use
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4.6 out of 5 stars

140 global ratings

  1. 73% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

JustinReviewed in the United States on January 20, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Good film, fine acting, engrossing and entertaining.
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Bloody hell of a good movie. I particularly enjoyed being in the 1st person point of view with the doppelgänger who finds himself having to sort out the mess his counterpart left him. I see that several reviews mention the need for suspending disbelief. I didn’t find that to be any more so than other highly rated films and certainly far less necessary than quite a bit of material. My experience was more of being so engrossed in the main character’s dilemma that I wasn’t pulled out of it in a way that made me consider whether or not it was believable. That being said, of course since his personality is so very different, his “new" family would surely have been questioning him. The film does a nice job of addressing the universality of questioning whether we belong with or deserve what we have—that so-called “imposter syndrome.” The David Byrne/Talking Heads line, “How did I get here? This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife!” Good film, fine acting, engrossing and entertaining.
46 people found this helpful
D. LarsonReviewed in the United States on March 1, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Catfishing in the Old U.K., or, They’re Cousins, Identical Cousins and You’ll find
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They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike…..You can lose your mind! To enjoy this pleasant near-costume drama (set 70 years ago, so it really is almost a costume drama), you have to accept the premise that not only do the two identical men chance on each other by pure happenstance, but that the original doppelganger has somehow made it into his mid-thirties without a single distinctive scar, mole, blemish or tattoo. If it was good enough for Daphne du Maurier, it’ll have to do for us. These two guys from very different social classes not only look alike, they have exactly the same haircut, speak with the exact same accent, despite those very different social classes, and are precisely the same height and weight. And, conveniently, both named John. What’re the odds? Me, by the time I was in my mid-30’s, I had a half dozen scars that’d be noticeable by wife or mistress or adulterer. But that’s just me.

So, without spoiling too much, these two do the Life Swap we knew was inevitable from the moment they clapped eyes. The bounder takes the teacher’s clothes, the teacher lets the chauffeur stuff him in the Rolls for the ride to the majestic manor house. Where everybody instantly accepts him for being his caddish double. Probably because everybody in the house has their own preoccupations. We got drug addicts, feckless brother, adulterous sister in law, neurasthenic wife with depression, resentful sister, child whose over-adorability is kind of cringe-worthy, and the suspicious snarky help who enables this nest of useless gits. Tolstoy would have loved this brood. All happy families may be alike, but this unhappy family has everybody being unhappy in their own way. Oh, and the family is broke, the factory’s in trouble, the entail on the wife’s fortune, the peasants are depending on the people up in the big house….

In short order, the various adulteries and plate breakage and morphine overdoses are in full swing, and a mopey time is had by all. The imposter catfishes not only the bounder’s mistress (well, one of them) but also his wife, neither woman noticing anything “off” about the replacement’s body or mannerisms. Not exactly moral choices on the part of the “good” double, but he’s got to hurry up and go hunting with the gentry. Chekov’s gun makes an appearance. It’s all very upper class with this bunch of useless upper class twits, but all’s well by the finale. Sort of. I mean, our hero is lying to everybody and there’s that dead body and the adorable child’s father who’s…. Kind of complicated.

A glance at the Wikipedia indicates that the Daphne du Maurier original had a whole lot more murders, which I think might have improved this movie. “The Scapegoat” is alright for what it is; it looks lush and posh, Matthew Rhys is good enough. And it’s got that guy who was in “Game of Thrones” and “The Crown” and “Endeavor” and “Wolf Hall” and just about everything else, Anton Lesser! You’ll know him when you see him, here as a priest. I love that guy. This version of “The Scapegoat” is harmless entertainment with no suspense but nice scenery and decent performances by familiar British faces. That’s enough.
20 people found this helpful
Emily TylerReviewed in the United States on December 12, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Entertaining and Suspenseful
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We started this show because we love Matthew Rhys in The Americans, and didn't know what to expect. We LOVED this movie. It was suspenseful, and had unexpected twists and turns and plot mysteries that took time to understand throughout the show. Kept us engaged and entertained the whole movie. Didn't want it to end.
30 people found this helpful
LeeLeeGeeReviewed in the United States on April 13, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Scapegoat is a spot-on, first-rate movie. 5 stars.
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I hope to see more of the lead actor. Before this, I'd only seen him in The Americans, which was a great series. I love that this movie used every moment to tell the story--without needless, lewd sex scenes or other drivel. The story is fantastic, and every actor plays their part beautifully. Touching film complete with humor, mystery, and suspense. One prominent theme I detected: Hateful people tend to project and only see hatefulness in others, whereas a person more capable of love can see (and bring out) the good in others.
21 people found this helpful
rhodymikeReviewed in the United States on December 30, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Almost a modern fairytale quality
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I liked this movie! Very unusual movie because you have to definitely suspend disbelief and just let it carry you along. All the characters are very believable and charming (except for the big bad wolf character, of course!). As I watched it, I thought of it being a male oriented fairytale a few times, set in modern times. Well done with a soft touch, in different hands it would have been unbelievable.
8 people found this helpful
lawyeraauReviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
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In 1952, as Great Britain prepares for a coronation, Welshman John Standing, a newly unemployed teacher, through pure happenstance, meets his doppelgänger, Johnny Spence, in a bar. They are identical in looks but are as different as night and day in their respective character. They have drinks together, and before John Standing realizes what has happened, he is drunk, ensconced in a hotel room asleep, only to wake up with a hangover and his wallet and all his belongings gone. He is left only with the doppelgängers clothing.

When John Standing is picked up at that hotel by a chauffeur in a beautiful car, believing him to be Johnny Spence, he gets with the program and is then taken to a lovely castle like mansion, where Johnny Spence’s wife and extended family await him. Though no one seems to sense anything amiss initially, John Standing treads with care and makes surprising discoveries about Johnny Spence, none of which are good. He tries to put to right what Johnny has put wrong. Then he gets a surprise. It turns out that Johnny Spence has a few more surprises up his sleeve.

This film is based upon a novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. Not having read the book, I cannot say whether it is a good adaptation of the novel. What I can say is that it is a well-acted, entertaining film with an excellent cast. The premise of the film is such that the viewer would do well to suspend disbelief to fully enjoy it.
joanReviewed in the United States on January 29, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great suspense
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This was surprisingly good! The whole cast was very good. Great casting makes a great movie. Matthew Rhys is so British-ly sexy. I'm a sucker for those veddy veddy well educated upper crust yet humble and decent English country house men! he premise may be a bit difficult to swallow (how could all these people be so thoroughly fooled??) . but the suspense is great. Give it the first fifteen minutes and you'll love it after that.
10 people found this helpful
kindle katReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stellar Matthew Rhys leads great cast-fine film
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Matthew Rhys is absolutely mesmerizing in all he does. Things happen quickly early on allowing details to be filled in as they are perceived by Rhys. It’s an excellent and entertaining film. I’ve yet to see Rhys in anything in which he isn’t tremendously compelling. We enjoyed this film.
3 people found this helpful
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