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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Adu is a drama in Spanish and French with English subtitles, centered on a 6-year-old boy's journey from Cameroon to Spain after he's separated from his mother. Violence shows some blood and gore. An elephant carcass is shown being sawn and hacked for parts. There's an attempted sexual assault of a child. A fall ends with blood pooling around the head. A man's bloody abdomen is shown while he's stuck in barbed wire. There's a brutal beating and several fights that show bloody noses and mouths. Lots of scariness from characters in danger, grainy night-vision footage, a frozen body, gunshots with cries of fear and pain, and traumatic separations from loved ones. One character admits to using marijuana, MDMA, and cocaine. A brown cake of something illegal is found in her luggage. Background and minor characters smoke; main characters smoke occasionally. Strong language is translated and includes "f--k" and "s--t." Three people kiss and make out together in a nightclub. Adults drink alcohol mainly on social occasions; one scene briefly shows excess drinking. Not everything has a safe resolution. It's a good opening to talk about big-picture problems like refugees, immigration, and conservation. It's also an opportunity to talk about how we care for one another and how we can help each other, both within our own families and as a society.
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What's the story?
ADU tell three different stories with themes, people, and places that come together at different times. Adu (Moustapha Oumarou) is 6 years old and lives in Cameroon with his mother and sister. He and his sister are forced to flee when their mother is killed. They go on a long, difficult journey to find their father in Spain, enduring many hardships and losses along the way. Gonzalo (Luis Tosar) is a consultant from Spain, in Cameroon to help stop elephant poachers. While he's in Africa, his rebellious and troubled daughter (Anna Castillo) joins him there. The two are really strangers to each other and have to forge a relationship from the ground up. Mateo (Alvaro Cervantes) is a border patrol guard in Melilla, one of two sovereign Spanish cities on the continent of Africa and surrounded by Morocco. An incident on the border fence ends with a refugee's death, and Mateo's unit is under investigation. Mateo struggles with the guilt he feels over the incident and loyalty to his fellow officers.
Is it any good?
This is a gripping, thoughtful movie that's sometimes hard to watch, but packs real emotional punch and is so thought-provoking that it's well worth it. The performances in Adu are all strong, it's beautifully photographed, and the three stories unfold and intertwine in ways that keep you in your seat. The actors playing the three youngest characters especially have a lot of magnetism on screen. Not every storyline is resolved, and one is especially frustrating and heartbreaking, so keep a box of tissues handy.
There's a lot of food for thought about problems both large-scale and personal. It'll get viewers thinking about refugees, wildlife conservation, what role or obligations industrialized countries have toward developing countries, what roles or obligations family members have to one another, friendship, justice, and so much more. Violence and adult themes make it best for mature teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Adu. How much is too much? Is it realistic? Does it make the story more compelling or believable? Why or why not?
What make Adu a good role model? What character strengths does he show? Which characters do you admire the most?
What did you learn about refugees? Did you notice the statistic at the end about the number of children who flee their homes? How can we as individuals help? What should the role of governments be to manage the crisis?
- On DVD or streaming: June 30, 2020
- Cast: Luis Tosar, Alvaro Cervantes, Moustapha Oumarou, Anna Castillo
- Director: Salvador Calvo
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: July 7, 2020
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