"Patrice Chéreau," writes Guy Lodge at In Contention, "is one of the most intelligent and fluid of current French auteurs, capable of tackling lurid historical drama (Queen Margot) and downbeat erotic realism (Intimacy) with equal contemporary-accented gusto, but his latest - after a four-year absence - is a frustrating melange of relationship studies, both dramatically under-nourished and theoretically over-explicated."
For Time Out London's David Jenkins, Persécution is "an ice-cold and, on occasion, punishingly verbose Parisian drama about the rapidly dissolving love affair between a pair of thirtysomething malcontents played by Romain Duris and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Technically, it looks and feels fine, but it's one of those films which keeps its cards close to its chest while simultaneously offering little impetus to make you actually want to watch it."
"Persécution offers strong evidence for the prosecution that the French produce too many pics depicting people arguing about their relationships, having sex and sitting in bars," grumbles Leslie Felperin in Variety. "[T]his sketchily drawn, dramatically thin work is not one of Chereau's best, and drew a mostly negative response at its Venice press screening."
The Hollywood Reporter's Ray Bennett has little patience for this "Parisian couple who spend more time talking about their relationship than getting on with it.... A requisite nude love scene between Duris and Gainsbourg adds little insight, and their constant bickering grows tiresome."
"Wearing the character's rage and suffering on his face, Duris is remarkably good as the deeply unsympathetic Daniel while Gainsbourg, who had her fair share of anguish at the hands of Willem Dafoe in Antichrist earlier this year, is his match as the noble Sonia," writes Mike Goodridge in Screen.
"Although it doesn't repeat the miracle of the director's masterpiece, His Brother, the film nonetheless makes up for some of its excessive intellectualism with a few painful passages of great intensity," finds Gabriele Barcaro at Cineuropa.