Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
New York Times:
Mr. Gardner's screenplay, of course, is something quite special, full of the kind of dialogue that movies usually can't afford, that defines time, place, mood, and character while seemingly going nowhere.
John Huston's 1972 restatement of his theme of perpetual loss is intelligently understated.
The New Republic:
So you say to yourself, this Fat City is pretty damn realistic, even if you know in your heart that "realistic" and Hollywood should not be printed on the same page-otherwise paper ignites. Still, you're marveling at it.
Marvellous, grimly downbeat study of desperate lives and the escape routes people construct for themselves, stunningly shot by Conrad Hall.
A terse, sharp, downbeat but compassionate look at the underside of smalltown American life in the west.
The movie is crafty work and very much a show. In one way or another, right down to the percussively abrupt open ending, it's all about being hammered.
The movie's bleak, but it's funnier than most comedies, and it suggests that life's toughness doesn't preclude joyfulness.