A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
People can help each other work through trauma and loss, and mentors can have a big impact. Movie has a sense of gratitude toward all the things that are provided naturally to make the sport of fishing happen -- not only the fish, but the water and the "perfect spot." A final message encourages people to take the tranquility they feel during fly-fishing, keep it with them at all times, and send it out into the world.
Positive Role Models
Characters here are significantly flawed; most are dealing with pain and loss and not always handling themselves in the best possible way. But as story progresses, characters become less selfish and begin giving more of themselves to help others. Strong mentor-pupil relationship, and the pupil passes down what he's learned to another.
Main character Colter is a Black man (Sinqua Walls). Of the other four most-seen characters, one is a White man, two are White women who are three-dimensional and have agency, and one is played by Wes Studi, who is Cherokee. Some veterans are played by actors with amputations who talk about their trauma in therapy. Other characters of color can be seen in smaller/background roles.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Brief but horrific scenes of war in Afghanistan include explosions, lots of shooting, and deaths. Character has nightmares reliving the incident in ever more horrific ways. Character attempts death by suicide by carrying a large rock into the lake (goes under water but pops up a moment later). Person blacks out and wakes up with blood trickle on forehead. Colter experiences fits of rage, slapping a chair across the room, storming out of therapy, slamming a keyboard, smashing bottles, punching at parked vehicles, etc. Large scars on legs. Characters panicking, arguing, yelling. Dialogue about someone killed in a car accident.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two characters begin a tentative romance, with some flirting, etc. Woman breaks out her "special moves," i.e., a sexy dance. Spoken story about a man losing his shorts and being naked. Dialogue about men "whose junk doesn't work."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Strong, somewhat frequent language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "son of a bitch," "bitch," "goddamn," "damn," "freak," "crap," "stupid." Middle-finger gestures. "Jesus" used as an exclamation.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Mention of Sour Patch Kids candy. Bottle of Jack Daniels shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character drinks whiskey to self-medicate; he frequently gulps from a plastic bottle and drinks several large shots in a bar. (A character tells him to "lay off the booze ... you reek.") Main character also takes prescription pills. Another character keeps a bottle of whiskey; an empty bottle is in the sink, and viewers learn that he dumped it out. Characters share drinks from a paper bag-wrapped bottle. Characters share beers. Cigar smoking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mending the Line is a drama about an injured veteran (Sinqua Walls) who learns to fly-fish to help with his PTSD. Strong performances and a genuine appreciation for the sport make it worth seeing. There's a horrific wartime sequence that includes explosions, heavy shooting, and characters being killed, as well as nightmares about this event. A character attempts death by suicide, and there are several outbursts of rage and violence, as well as shouting, panicking, arguing, etc. Language is very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," and more. The main character drinks too much, gulping whiskey from a bottle throughout and having too much in a bar. Other characters have tenuous relationships with alcohol as well, and there's prescription pill use and cigar smoking. There's flirting and brief, mild, sex-related dialogue, as well as a bit of "sexy" dancing. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It may be formulaic and slow, but this mentor-student drama is rarely dull, thanks to fine performances and languid pacing that lets us find the meditative rhythms of fly-fishing itself. "More great literature has been written about fly-fishing than any other sport," Ike says at one point, and, watching Mending the Line, you're likely to believe him. The movie's fishing scenes are full of myth and metaphor, philosophy and psychology, as well as a general sense of centeredness and well-being. There's also gratitude: When Ike first catches a fish, he cradles it tenderly, lets it go, and whispers, "thank you."
The mentor-student stuff is pretty routine, including Ike's hard-as-nails approach (he makes John clean the stockroom before even letting him handle a fishing rod). There are also the expected weepy hospital scenes, a somewhat turgid music score, and a largely unsuccessful romantic subplot, but the actors, including the great Wes Studi as Ike's best friend (and the only one who can put up with Ike's orneriness), are fully game. They embrace the tragedy and beauty of their characters, and they manage to sell moments that might have otherwise fallen flat in lesser hands. Ultimately, Mending the Line teaches us a little about fly-fishing, but a lot more about being human.
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.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Movies That Inspire Gratitude
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate