1,000 Times Good Night

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
1,000 Times Good Night Movie Poster Image
Mature themes in moving story about mother/war photographer.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 111 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages people to consider jobs they're passionate about and that make a difference and educate others. Rebecca's story also makes it clear that if you're truly gifted at something, you shouldn't have to give it up -- and that the first world needs to know what's happening in third-world and war-torn countries.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rebecca is a complicated character; while she's certainly an accomplished photographer, it's difficult to say whether she's a positive role model. She's brave, but she's clearly more focused on her mission to photograph the injustices of the world than to be home with her family. Marcus is a wonderful father, but he's not willing to support his wife's decisions. Steph takes a very mature stance on her mother's assignments.

Violence

Rebecca photographs a female suicide bomber's day before she sets off an explosion, killing herself and bystanders. The explosion seriously injures Rebecca, who feels complicit in the bombing because she drew attention to her. Rebecca is hospitalized but released. When Rebecca and her daughter Steph go to Kenya, the refugee camp they're visiting is overrun by armed men who open fire on the camp. Rebecca continues to photograph the female suicide bombers and, to her horror, realizes they've chosen a young girl to sacrifice for the cause.

Sex

Rebecca and her husband kiss and make love; they're shown kissing on the bed, with him shirtless on top of her.

Language

Occasional but not frequent language includes "s--t," "shut up," and hurtful things like "It would have been better if you'd died."

Consumerism

Land Rover, Volkswagen, Canon cameras, Apple computer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink at home, during meals.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 1,000 Times Good Night is a serious drama starring Juliette Binoche as a war photographer whose husband wants her to choose between her family and her dangerous occupation. Loosely based on Norwegian director Erik Poppe's own experiences as a press photographer, the movie does highlight global violence -- female suicide bombers prepare for their mission and detonate themselves to cause collateral damage; an armed Sudanese henchman goes on a killing spree at a Kenyan refugee camp --  but none of the main characters die (although one is injured). There's a brief scene of marital lovemaking and some strong language between adults, but it's the mature themes and difficult subject matter that make this family drama best left for high-school-aged viewers and adults.

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What's the story?

Director Erik Poppe's semi-autobiographical drama 1,000 TIMES GOOD NIGHT follows acclaimed war photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche), who regularly puts herself in life-threatening situations to make sure the horrors of the world are captured and acknowledged. As the movie opens, Rebecca is following a secret cell of female suicide bombers and ends up just a few feet away when a woman detonates herself, injuring Rebecca in the process. After Rebecca's husband, Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), brings her back to their home on the Irish seaside, he begs her to stop putting her life on the line and instead think of their two daughters, who live in fear that she's going to die every time she leaves for a assignment. Faced with her husband's ultimatum, Rebecca decides to retire from active war zones -- but when her older daughter, Steph (Lauryn Canny), asks to go with her on a "safe" job in Kenya, Rebecca finally realizes that being a photographer isn't just a job, it's a calling, even when her life is at risk.

Is it any good?

Binoche's beautifully subtle performance as a complicated woman is the foremost reason to see this film. Specifically, the sequences in which Rebecca is on assignment in Afghanistan and in Kenya are the best in the movie; she mesmerizes viewers as she captures others' unthinkable circumstances. The opening and closing moments in particular are gorgeously shot, even as what they're depicting is utterly horrifying. Wordlessly and with just a Canon DSLR as a prop, Binoche explores the depths of what an adrenaline-fueled journalist on a mission must feel when he or she has gotten the chance to record history.

But the movie isn't just about Rebecca's job; it's also about her life back home, where she doesn't quite fit in to the idyllic surroundings. Sure, she has a gorgeous, attentive husband; two lovely daughters (one broodily pubescent, the other still young enough to care only about what presents Mum has brought home from her exotic travels); and the kind of stone country home featured on Ireland tourism sites, but Rebecca isn't made to chaperone field trips or make meals. She tries, for her husband's sake, to be fulfilled with a quieter, domestic life, but as her best friends, Tom (U2 drummer Larry Mullen, Jr.) and Theresa (Maria Doyle Kennedy), know about her, she's got a gift and she needs to use it. Young Canny does a wonderful job as possibly the only character who truly changes and grows over the course of the film, but the family melodrama isn't nearly as captivating as Rebecca's unquenchable need to be out in the field.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in 1,000 Times Good Night. Is it necessary to illustrate how dangerous Rebecca's job is? Do you think Rebecca has a moral responsibility to cover violent events, or should she protect herself for the sake of her family?

  • How are Rebecca's family relationships portrayed? Do you think mothers are criticized more harshly than fathers for being preoccupied with their work? If the story is autobiographical, why do you think the filmmaker chose to make the protagonist a woman?

  • Do you agree with Steph that other kids need her mother more than she does? Are you surprised at the difference between Steph's feelings about her mother's work and Marcus' feelings about his wife?

  • How is the press (photographers, editors, journalists) depicted in the movie? Do you think there's something unethical about Rebecca's assignment with the suicide bombers?

Movie details

For kids who love globe-trotting tales

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