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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie is largely about wealth and power leading to corruption, greed, hypocrisy, and immorality. Discussion about how, especially in the 1930s, men could rise to power almost effortlessly while women were locked out.
Positive Role Models
Marlowe works hard to keep ahold of his moral center, trying to do the right thing, but due to the world he inhabits, he often resorts to lowdown schemes or violent behavior. He does show kindness to another character.
Many central characters are White men; a Black character (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) teams up with the main character to take down some villains. He has some agency, makes certain decisions on his own. But he's still viewed as a servant in the movie's 1930s setting, with far less power than his White counterparts. Women are depicted as being kept down by the system, but certain female characters with agency are able to manipulate things to gain advantage. Posters for a real movie called Mexican Spitfire, which starred the real-life Mexican-born performer Lupe Velez. Latino characters are depicted in minor roles as drug dealers. Minor characters use the terms "wetbacks" and "beaners." Term "Mick" is used to describe an Irish person.
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Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting (some fatal), with blood spurts. Dead bodies. Bloody crime scene. Car runs over a person's head, squishing it. Character threatened by two others with garden shears and shovel. Several scenes of fighting, punching, head-bashing, characters beaten up. Woman threatened with gun. Knife held to woman's throat. Character handcuffed to wall. Character grabbed by lapel, shoved up against wall. Building on fire. A character throws a tantrum in a restaurant, flinging a tablecloth from a table. A movie shoot depicts a man being shot by a Tommy Gun and crashing through a window. Actor made up to look like her eye has been shot out. Violent dialogue. Nazi symbols depicted during movie shoot.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Scenes in a sex club include a seemingly naked woman covered with cash, a man slipping cash into a woman's stocking, women dancing in suggestive ways, etc. Sex-related dialogue. Discussions of infidelity, characters with many partners. Flirting. Kissing.
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Several uses of "f--k." Also "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "up your ass," "goddamn," "hell," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), "damn" "whore."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character sniffs cocaine. Characters sell drugs. Frequent cigarette smoking throughout. Characters drink whiskey, scotch, and beer in several scenes. "Mexican powder" smuggled in statue. Characters are given "Mickey Finns" (i.e., knockout drugs). Dialogue about drug use ("heroin," "marks on his arms," etc.).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Marlowe is a 1930s-set mystery/thriller featuring Raymond Chandler's iconic literary detective character Philip Marlowe (Liam Neeson), although it's based on a newer 2014 novel by John Banville. Violence includes guns and shootings (sometimes fatal), blood spurts and bloody wounds, dead bodies, fighting, punching, head-bashing, etc. A character's head is run over by a car, and a woman is threatened with a knife and a gun. There's kissing, mature sexual dialogue, infidelity, and brief scenes inside a sex club with scantily clad women. Language includes several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "ass," "goddamn," and more. Drug smuggling is part of the plot, a character sniffs cocaine, and characters drink (mainly whiskey) frequently and smoke cigarettes constantly. The story is more cynical than exciting or clever, but veteran director Neil Jordan's skill and Neeson's slick performance make it worth a look for teens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While the mystery here may disappoint Raymond Chandler fans, the rest of this well-crafted detective movie enthralls with its stylish, sordid underworld and fresh take on a classic character. Veteran director Neil Jordan directs Marlowe, and his high level of skill is immediately apparent. In his decades-long career, Jordan has proven to be most at home with crime stories, like this and the classic Mona Lisa. He has also worked with Liam Neeson several times, including on the biopic Michael Collins. Between them, there's hardly a misstep here, with Neeson finding Marlowe's complex moral center, as well as his dry charm. The catch is that this isn't a classic detective story like The Big Sleep. There isn't really an aha! moment in which everything becomes clear. Marlowe is more of a cynical, subversive story -- like Robert Altman's grungy version of Chandler's The Long Goodbye -- using its familiar setting and characters to uncover hypocrisy, greed, and immorality. It can feel like a bit of a drag, but the point is not to wallow in nostalgia, but rather to suggest that the good ol' days weren't necessarily good.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.