Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Family movie night? There's an app for that

Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.

Parents' Guide to

Burn Your Maps

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Poignant, quirky family dramedy explores grief.

Movie PG-13 2019 102 minutes
Burn Your Maps Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

All good!

Beautiful messages about loss and healing, making mistakes, finding your way and what belonging is found in.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Watching this film is a discovery; it's like stumbling on an unusual rock, putting it in your pocket, and, when you pull it out, realizing it's actually a flawless diamond. Burn Your Maps' concept is definitely quirky: A second-grader thinks he's a Mongolian goat herder. (Whaaaaat?) But that unique plot element is just the first domino in an unexpected spilling of wonder (as in, "I wonder where this film is going."). The story is pleasingly unpredictable, the dialogue is snappy, and the writing is tight. Every line gives you a pound of understanding, which you'll need, because the film drops viewers smack into the middle of this family's turmoil. And that's what's all the more miraculous: Writer-director Jordan Roberts doesn't hit you over the head with exposition; rather, it's a slow roll of information that unwinds. For instance, when her parents start bickering, Wes' teen sister emotionlessly utters a warning call, "You guys are about to start fighting" -- and the entire picture of what life has been like in that household is painted.

Nuances like that are executed by top-shelf acting from the entire cast -- you feel everything. As a mother who's trying to pull herself out of a mountain of grief, Farmiga gets the most opportunity to show her chops, but every player gives a riveting, informative, emotive performance. As a retired, trekking nun, Virginia Madsen pops in for just a couple of scenes and proves that much can be made with little. The cinematography is equally gorgeous, with "golden hour" shots illuminating Mongolia as if it were heaven itself. Will kids or teens find it as enthralling as adults will? Perhaps not. But as the last shot triumphs, grown-up viewers will sit in awe of this little gem.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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.

See how we rate