Stealing Beauty

  • Review Date: October 31, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1996

Common Sense Media says

Meditation on sex, life, death; older teens only.
  • Review Date: October 31, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1996





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some characters are callous, others, clueless. Honest look at human foibles.

Not applicable

Losing virginity is the theme of the movie, explicit sex shown


Some cursing.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking marijuana on several occasions. Characters also constantly smoke cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that on the most superficial level, the movie's plot revolves a girl losing her virginity. Lots of sex is shown on screen (without nudity), and there's a skinny dipping scene. Characters drink and smoke marijuana and cigarettes. For families who are comfortable discussing sex and relationships, this moving can be a good one to watch with teen girls who are on the cusp of sexual freedom, since it begs the question of what attracts people to each other.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

In STEALING BEAUTY, teenager Lucy Harmon (Liv Tyler) is spending a summer in a Tuscan artists' colony and is intent on losing her virginity. Who will be the one? Alex Barnes (Jeremy Irons), a dying writer? Carlo Lisca (Carlo Cecchi), an enigmatic ex-paramour of Lucy's mother? Old family friend Christopher, who gave Lucy her first kiss on her last visit to Italy? Much of the film is devoted to setting up various candidates and then dismissing them. Lucy herself is a cipher. The camera bathes her with love, point-blank goggling at her as she pouts, and smokes, and dances, and loafs around the colony.

Is it any good?


Liv Tyler is easily as beautiful as the movie's title advertises, fresh and glowing as a hyacinth. In sharp contrast to Lucy, is Alex who is dying of cancer. The friendship between a girl in the blossom of her youth and the writer who borrows her beauty for his pleasure during his last days is both poignant and mature. Rounding out the themes is Lucy's search for the man who actually sired her -- also one of several candidates.

Parents should know that Stealing Beauty is intended for adults (or the most mature of children) only.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way that some people use sex to gain affection or power. Families can also talk about the importance that has traditionally been attached to virginity, and about how losing that virginity changes a person's life. Why is Lucy so adament about losing her virginity? A discussion of sexual morality might definitely be in order, as might one about the ways that drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions and make a person behave badly whilst under the influence. How is this reflected in the film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 14, 1996
DVD release date:January 8, 2002
Cast:Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Liv Tyler
Director:Bernardo Bertolucci
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexuality, nudity, some drug use and language

This review of Stealing Beauty was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byM H November 5, 2010

Stealing Beauty

Stealing Beauty is an example of a movie that wouldn't harm a teenager of any age if they say it. But that probably most teenagers wouldn't understand the deeper implications of. Yes the movie has nudity, it has sex, it has drug use, language, and even less than perfect people, but it does have some very pointed things to say about how people grow up and how they come to encased into the lives that they build for themselves. As for the main concern of the movie's central protagonist played by Liv Tyler it is losing her virginity. It's handled with a certain amount of leering grace but after all the movie is by Bernardo Bertolucci the infamous filmmaker behind Last Tango in Paris, so it isn't all that surprising. The movie would be a good starting point for some parents to talk about sex with their son or daughter as the finale has a really tender and loving sex scene while Lucy loses her virginity. The scene is bound to go against the standards that most teenagers have seen or assumed about sex and real passes the act off in a realistic light. The characters fumble over things like positions and getting their clothes situated. It's quite a beautiful scene and one that I wish more filmmakers would try to emulate if they insist on having love scenes in their movies. In the end the movie is very humane towards it's characters and very respectful of them. Teenagers could do much worse than see this movie.


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