The New Yorker says, "It is a harrowing experience, this film". FilmRef.com calls it "Perhaps the most spiritually bleak and visually stark of Ingmar Bergman's religious chamber series". Roger Ebert considers it a great film. Senses of Cinema writes:
Technically, the film is flawless – no single shot could be removed without damaging the overall effect. It is as if Bergman assembled the raw materials to tell his story, as raw as he could make them, then placed them in front of Sven Nykvist’s camera with as little emphasis as possibleSlant Magazine says, "to my mind it is one of the most profound examinations of Christianity and its imprisoning tenets". DVD Talk calls it "one of Bergman's most austere and compelling films" and says,
Winter Light is an agonizing, deceptively simple work that ranks among Bergman's finest efforts. It is thoroughly and completely uncompromising in its vision of absolute spiritual despair and hunger.