Been So Long

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Been So Long Movie Poster Image
Romcom-musical about single mom has sex and language.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 100 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Don't give up on love. "Friendship ain't a friendship until it's tested."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Simone is devoted to wheelchair-bound 9-year-old daughter she's raising without a father. She's a diligent, caring mom who works hard but is lonely. When she meets a handsome stranger at a pub, she will only date him after learning if he's nice to his mother, if he's employed, if he's free of drug issues, if he seems reliable. Raymond is a caring guy who made a stupid youthful error that got him jail time but who now wants to prove to Simone that he's worthy of her love. Raymond objects when a party girl takes selfies with a woman sleeping on a city bus. Daughter Mandy is bright and insightful.



Thinking that the girl he liked was stolen years before by Raymond, Gil stalks his supposed rival and threatens him with a knife, until they become friends.



Party girl and best friend Yvonne pushes Simone to break out of her caretaker mode and have some sexual fun. She drags Simone out to a bar where they meet Raymond, who's immediately attracted to Simone. A woman tries to pick up a guy on a bus. A woman thinks she's pregnant and talks about "pissing on a stick" to find out. A woman drags a messenger at her office into the copy room to have sex. Couples dance sensually. Couples kiss and have sex but no body parts are shown. A man boasts of his sexual prowess, picks up his shirt, and rubs his abs. Vulgar descriptions of sex.


"F--k," "s--t," "horny," "hell" "piss," "spliff," t-tties," "sit on someone's face," "get your piece wet." Lyrics include, "Grind a man, pound a man." Someone has a "tree branch for a dick." Someone is aroused and is "making a puddle on the floor."  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Castro, Simone's ex and the father of her child, has gone clean and sober and wants to be in his daughter's life. Adults drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. Cocaine, pills, and ketamine are all mentioned. Someone overdoses on ketamine. Someone asks for a drag on a spliff.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Been So Long is an unusual combination. It's a frank love story, complete with candid, even coarse talk about sex, and a heartfelt musical in which characters break into emotional song-soliloquies accompanied by choreography to describe inner turmoil. Hookups, the need for frequent sex -- sometimes with strangers -- plus unwed pregnancies, drug addiction, breaking-and-entering, jail time, and other gritty, real-life issues are raised in this drama about an unmarried woman with a handicapped child who falls for an ex-con sanitation worker. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "horny," "t-tties," and vulgar descriptions of sex. Couples have sex but no body parts are shown. Adults drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. Cocaine, pills, and ketamine are all mentioned. Someone overdoses. 

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What's the story?

In BEEN SO LONG, Simone (Michaela Coel) is a smart, beautiful hairdresser lovingly raising her 9-year-old, wheelchair-bound daughter without a father. We later learn that in his formerly drug-addicted addled condition, the dad had wanted Simone to have an abortion. Simone's fun-loving best friend Yvonne (Ronke Adekoluejo) expresses her own "horniness" but also thinks Simone has been out of circulation for long enough and, after hiring a babysitter, drags Simone to a bar. Yvonne approaches a handsome man at the bar named Raymond (Arinze Kene), but Raymond is interested only in Simone. They flirt. Despite the strong attraction, Simone will only take Raymond's number and will go no further. As they get to know each other better, a strong bond and attraction grows. After Raymond introduces himself to Simone's daughter without Simone's permission, Simone withdraws, which sends Raymond into another woman's arms and nearly destroys his chances with Simone. Ultimately, they reconcile and seem to genuinely respect each other. Characters break into song and dance to express their emotions.    

Is it any good?

This movie seeks to create a meaningful look at the quest to find love in a complicated world, in this case one of young middle-class London strivers surrounded by crime and drug problems. Coel and Kene are two beautiful, compelling actors who sing and dance well and seem perfectly matched as a couple. Older teens watching may find much to think about in Been So Long's suggestion that had Simone and Raymond slept together upon their first meeting at a bar, the relationship would probably have ended quickly after a one-night stand, leaving both of them feeling awful and regretful. Instead they get to know and respect each other, making their first sexual encounter so much more meaningful and bonding. The movie also portrays an admirable and aspirational world of easy interracial social interaction where blacks and whites mingle at bars, have deep friendships, and fall in love without criticism or stigma.       

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difficulties of raising a child as a single parent. Simone's friend wants her to have a social and sexual life in addition to being a devoted mother. Do you think Simone can be both a good single parent and also an adult with a personal life? Why or why not?

  • Do you think the father of Simone's child, a recovering addict who now wants to take responsibility for his abandoned daughter, should be given the chance to participate in the child's life? Do you think Simone was being fair to the father and to the daughter by banning him?

  • Did you like that characters in Been So Long broke into song and dance to express their emotions? Does it add to the story or feel intrusive? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love musicals

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