Change in the Air

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Change in the Air Movie Poster Image
Quirky drama about secrets leaves viewers in the dark.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Everyone is going through something difficult; it's important to have empathy for others' struggles. Writing them down can help you process your emotions, release self-judgments, gain new insights.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A central character helps free others of their burdens. Characters who co-exist in a neighborhood are generally friendly, look out for one another, are somewhat ethnically diverse. Jo Ann is quite curious, even verging into nosiness/trespassing, but she does mean well. Big mistakes in characters' pasts are revealed.

Violence

An elderly man intentionally steps in front of a moving car (it happens offscreen; he's OK). Characters have suffered losses/pain in the past. Very gentle, quiet on-screen death. Spoiler alert: A character gets very upset telling the sad story of a young girl who almost dies of vehicular heatstroke. 

Sex

Marital affection. A character is very taken with another.

Language

Very infrequent language includes "ass" and a Spanish insult.

Consumerism

Background brands include Mercedes, Cadillac, and QVC. Meatball Magic and Mazda CX-5 are featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An alcoholic character secretly drinks; her alcoholism has a devastating consequence.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Change in the Air is a spiritual-ish drama that deals in the often painful human struggles that we all face -- and shows how finding someone to listen to those struggles can help us overcome them. Kids may not be particularly interested, but nothing in the movie is too edgy for older tweens. An elderly character steps in front of a car on purpose (it takes place offscreen, and he's OK), and another character is an alcoholic, which ultimately has serious consequences. One character is a stereotypically nosy neighbor whose busybody ways lead her to participate in some minor crimes, including driving without a license, breaking and entering, lying to a police officer, and stealing mail. Language is minimal but includes a use of "ass." Rachel Brosnahan, Mary Beth Hurt, and Aidan Quinn star.

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What's the story?

In CHANGE IN THE AIR, beautiful, mysterious Wren Miller (Rachel Brosnahan) moves into a friendly but very curious neighborhood. The longer Wren lives nearby, the more odd things start happening, and the neighbors' secrets start to emerge. Meanwhile, Wren's perplexing behavior is driving the neighbors -- particularly Jo Ann (Mary Beth Hurt) -- mad with curiosity. Why does she receive an enormous amount of mail, where does she go during the day, and why does she avoid the police?

Is it any good?

This is a movie with a big message -- unfortunately, that message is unclear. As characters are introduced, a mystery unravels: Who are all these neighbors to each other? What are their personal struggles? And what is the new neighbor's secret, and how will she solve their problems? It would be nice to say that 94 minutes later, the answers to all of these questions were revealed with a whopping WOW, but, no. It ends with a "huh?" and a "did I miss something?"

This might be a faith-based film, but that's fuzzy, too. Most confounding is why well-respected, award-winning actors like Olympia Dukakis, Rachel Brosnahan, M. Emmet Walsh, and Aidan Quinn signed up for a film of such "eh" stature. Dukakis and Quinn perform admirably, given the circumstances, but Brosnahan mostly just walks and gazes while trying to be ethereal, so it's hard to give her kudos. Plus, it's challenging to follow the subplot in each of the houses, much less care about the characters themselves. And then there's the title. What exactly does it mean? On one hand, a young woman moves into a community, and her presence drives change; on the other, an aged gentleman always carries loose change with him, and there's a connection with birds flying in the air. So is the title a corny play on words? The only thing that is clear is that Change in the Air will keep you guessing long after the screen goes dark.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Wren. Who or what was she? What was her purpose? Why do you think she moved to the other characters' street? Do you think she made a positive impact in Change in the Air? Where do you think she is now?

  • Is writing your thoughts down for no one else to read but you a form of communication? Why do you think people keep a journal? What benefit does journaling provide?

  • Jo Ann's curiosity crossed some boundaries, both social and legal. Why is curiosity considered a strength? Can curiosity have negative effects?

  • How does Wren demonstrate compassion? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

For kids who love uplifting stories

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