A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this poignant coming-of-age story set in the beautiful Irish countryside includes the death of a parental figure. Themes of bullying, loss, and abandonment are throughout this heartrending film, and while such topics may be difficult for younger or less mature children, A Shine of Rainbows should spark interesting discussions within families about these issues. Expect some strong positive lessons about compassion and the value of parental love mixed in with the hard stuff.
What's the story?
Tomas (John Bell), a shy, timid boy with a stutter who is bullied in a dreary orphanage, is rescued from his surroundings by Maire (Connie Nielsen), a kind and compassionate former orphan who takes Tomas to the island of Corrie where she hopes to adopt him. It is in Corrie where Tomas, with the boundless patience of Maire, begins to overcome his timidity and he engages in all sorts of bucolic frolics with other children on the island. Maire's husband, the sullen Alec (Aidan Quinn), is reluctant to share in Maire's unconditional love for Tomas, but as events take trying and tragic turns, he must decide whether to adopt Tomas or send him back to the orphanage.
Is it any good?
Full of vibrant color and breathtaking scenes of the Irish countryside, A SHINE OF RAINBOWS, based on a novel by Lillian Beckwith, is a touching coming-of-age story. As the title implies, rainbows make regular quasi-magical appearances on the Island of Corrie, and so do seals, and there's a legend about an old statue that seems to come to life.
Initially, Tomas is a pitiable character bordering on pathetic (no matter his hardships), but as we get to know him, we see him as a kind, likeable, and ultimately heroic boy transcending tremendous difficulties. The story of Tomas learning to overcome his past and his fears should have a broad appeal to families, and even the most jaded curmudgeon wearied of these sentimental stories should, at least, be entranced by the seaside, the hills, and the cottages serving as the backdrop in this film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the effects of bullying. Does this movie depict bullying in a realistic way? What are the long-term effects of bullying? What can kinds and parents do when confronted with bullying?
How is this movie different from those produced in Hollywood? How would this movie have been different, do you think, if it was made specifically for an American audience?
How does this film depict grief? Does it seem accurate? How can kids and adults cope with grief in a healthy way?
- In theaters: February 13, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: March 15, 2011
- Cast: Aidan Quinn, Connie Nielsen, John Bell
- Director: Vic Sarin
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, mild peril, smoking
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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.