Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Searing story of betrayal isn't for kids.

Movie R 2004 100 minutes
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A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 18+

Very good

I've been hearing lots of negativity about this movie. I think a lot of people have been shocked, frankly, by the raw and rough nature of the film. Having read the play, I've been looking forward to it for about a year now, and it's honestly one of the best plays I've ever read. Mike Nichols presents it in an amazing way, very faithful to the words as they're written. It's a brutal topic, sex and love, especially when they're combined. I thought the movie was amazing. It captured all of the vulnerability, caustic harshness, and acerbic flirtation that the play vibrated with. All of the cast brought the movie alive. It uplifts and then brings you way down, but that's the point, and yet at the end, I didn't feel depressed or saddened, just really really awake and curious. It's the feeling you get when you get "closer", I suppose. Natalie Portman, in a tour-de-force performance, is the standout by far. Maybe it's because she's the youngest, and not expected to be that awesome, but she is. Anyways, her Alice is flirty and sweet, caustic and manipulative, evasive and yet very open, sexual and gloomy all in one character. She has the best chemistry with the men - whether it be purely sensual with Clive Owen, or innocence and affection with Jude Law. She comes alive with the two guys, and their scenes are ones to look forward to. Julia Roberts, whom everyone looks towards, is not bad in this film. She's very understated and good, but she is outshone in nearly every scene by whomever she's acting with. Clive Owen is absolutely astounding, and he's definitely on everyone's radar screen. As the man of experience and "simplicity", as Jude Law's character comments, he's brash and hotheaded, but also extremely clever. Owen perfectly plays the sleazy, unlikeable character, but somehow manages to appeal to the audience and even though he's a disagreeable character, I think many managed to find something all right about him - Owen's human sense in Larry. Jude Law is simply very very good; neither astounding nor bad. The only reason he does not stand out is the fact that we've all expected him to do a good performance. And he does, he has a great performance. He and Portman have amazing scenes together, and he's always on par. Simply put, the movie is not for everyone; it's a mature adult flick, and does not back down from anything. It's high drama - with all the uplifting romance and brutal arguments of relationships. It's a story about people.
age 16+

Good drama and somewhat black comedy in some areas, very sexual.

I'm one of those at-home critics that enjoys watching very well acclaimed performances, and there is definitely some in this movie. It tells a good story of 4 people, 2 couples after the other person in the other couple. Interesting. VERY clear, explicit, descriptive sexual dialogue. Still very understandable for very mature teens only, as I'm 15 going on 16 very shortly. It's a good movie, but highly sexual. If you're mature enough, you're mind won't be too concerned with the sexual stuff. It's not BAD as Common Sense Media says it is. I would say American Beauty is a much more adult movie. Good stuff, though!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (2 ):

This film is more clever than wise. Those who have been angered and betrayed by love might find it validating, but that does not make it insightful. The characters toss around the l-word a great deal, but there is no evidence that any of them even see each other, much less know or love each other. Both female characters are somewhere between a fantasy and a narrative convenience, their only function to drive the men crazy. The film's center is the relationship between the two men. Their connections with the women have more to do with the struggle between them over power and territory than with knowing or caring for Anna and Alice.

Portman is dazzling to watch. Owen and Law do well, but this is not the best use of Roberts' considerable talents; it may be that director Mike Nichols was relying more on the shock value of hearing America's sweetheart speak about oral sex in explicit terms than on her ability to convey a superficially conceived character.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 3, 2004
  • On DVD or streaming: March 29, 2005
  • Cast: Jude Law , Julia Roberts , Natalie Portman
  • Director: Mike Nichols
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 100 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: sequences of graphic sexual dialogue, nudity/sexuality and language
  • Last updated: February 17, 2024

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