A Shine of Rainbows

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
A Shine of Rainbows Movie Poster Image
Magical coming-of-age story is intensely emotional.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie expresses how valuable the love of a parent is to a child. A child learns to overcome his timidity, his stuttering, and his past experiences of being bullied at the orphanage with the help of a loving mother figure. The positives of adopting older children are shown. Characters show compassion for suffering animals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maire is a patient, kind, and loving adoptive mother. Tomas learns to be more confident in himself and his place in the world, and his deep sensitivity, initially treated as a weakness, is shown to be one of his great strengths. As someone who grew up an orphan herself, Maire shows great compassion for the orphan boy. Tomas also takes care of an abandoned baby seal he names Smudge.


Early in the film, a character is bullied by having a stool kicked out from under him, getting slapped in the head, and having his pencils broken in half by other boys. One character gets attacked by a bird while trying to steal its eggs. Another is tossed out of a boat while trying to row through choppy waters. A main character dies of an illness.


Brief kissing between a husband and wife, who are also seen in bed together talking.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character smokes a pipe, and he later drinks whiskey to cope with grief, and is found passed out at the kitchen table with a bottle in his hands.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 11 years old August 22, 2012

Great if you don't mind crying

AMAZING movie!!! Though very, very, very, sad!!! I started shaking because I was crying so hard!!!
Kid, 9 years old July 26, 2012

a very unpredictable movie you never know if it is okay

a very heartfelt movie although it is very emotinal it is a great family movie there are great role models and messages but with drinking and smoking is not oka... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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