Parents' Guide to

Betty & Coretta

By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Moving tribute to two civil rights widows' legacies.

Movie PG 2013 120 minutes
Betty & Coretta Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Hits a lot of touchy topics - better for older kids

So I was expecting some violence related to civil rights and obviously assassinations of MLK and Malcom X, but this movie included references to sexual affairs, showed mental health/drug struggles, bugging homes for secret recordings, jail, house fires (including Betty dying as a result of her grandson setting fire to their home), etc. All historically accurate, but just better for older kids. Mine were a bit overwhelmed by this movie. I was looking for some MLK history, but this was maybe a bit too mature for them.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This is a poignant tribute to the courage and fortitude of two unexpected civil rights heroes. It's narrated by celebrated actress Ruby Dee, whose firsthand accounts of the women she knew through her own activist work frame Betty & Coretta's segments. For many, this will be an introduction to these two figures who typically blend into the scenery in history's telling of their famous husbands' work on behalf of human liberty. But the movie makes a strong case for their own place in the books, earned by Betty's and Coretta's willingness to step up and carry the load left behind when their husbands were killed.

But following two stories over the course of three decades is no small undertaking for a TV movie, and it suffers a bit from an inconsistent pace. It's often difficult to follow the timeline (especially since the actresses themselves don't seem to age much), and rarely do the characters or narrator reference the passage of years in quantifiable terms. In light of this, viewers will have an easier time keeping up with the story's progress if they have some familiarity with the major events in the civil rights movement and its aftermath. In any case, it's a beautifully crafted tale punctuated by passionate lead performances that shed light on these brave women's lives and may encourage further research and discussion about this turning point in American history.

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