A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Overall, the film raises questions about the merits and motives of "reality" television, revealing the good, bad, and ugly aspects of living your life on camera.
Positive Role Models
There aren't clear-cut "good" and "bad" role models. The filmmaker is portrayed as manipulative and unethical, although his actions result from the pursuit of impactful art. In the beginning, the Louds agree to be filmed as part of a social experiment, but they eventually play into the process and embrace the power of their newfound celebrity.
Violence & Scariness
One scene involves a physical fight with punching.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some sexual innuendo and kissing, plus references to extramarital affairs and homosexuality, but nothing overt.
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Characters give the middle finger and use unbleeped language like "bulls--t," "a--hole," "hell," "damn," and "son of a bitch," although usage isn't constant.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters smoke cigarettes. Social drinking is frequent.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this made-for-television movie targeted at adults has unbleeped swearing (in the form of "bulls--t" and "a--hole), although characters don't use strong language constantly. Many scenes involve alcohol, too, and some characters smoke cigarettes. Sexual content isn't overt and is limited to innuendo, with scenes alluding to extramarital affairs and homosexuality. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Thanks to spot-on art direction and a nostalgic soundtrack featuring songs by Carole King, Mama Cass, and The Who, Cinema Verite feels well-rooted in 1970s realism. It creates an authentic sense of place that sets the stage for the birth of reality television as we know it. And the resulting film is a long, strange, fascinating trip that prompts plenty of valid questions about reality, celebrity, and the consequences of capturing people's lives on camera.
One particularly effective technique, in which footage of the actual Loud family (courtesy of the original 1973 documentary series) is shown alongside uncanny footage of the actors portraying them, subtly but shrewdly reinforces the ever-blurry line between fact and fiction in the context of reality TV. In a perfect world, we'd recommend following up the film with some spirited family discussion and a critical viewing of An American Family ... but, ironically, it's not available on DVD. Yet.
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.