By Kat Halstead,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
British thriller has language, violence, themes of trauma.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Be careful who you trust. The effects of trauma can be long-lasting.
Positive Role Models
Cordelia shows kindness in giving up her seat for a man with a visual impairment and setting a mouse free outside. She struggles to deal with the ongoing effects of trauma, trust issues, and a fractured relationship with reality, which makes her an unreliable narrator and leads to her committing violent acts. Her neighbor, Frank, is initially charming, but reveals dark secrets and shows obsessive, threatening behavior.
Cast all White and appear middle-class. Main character is female and portrayed with complexity. Man with visual impairment shown briefly on train, but his character is not developed, and the remaining characters show no physical disability. An older neighbor is seen in a confused state, stereotypically portraying Alzheimer's. Some exploration of the ongoing effects of trauma, though mostly as a plot device.
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Violence & Scariness
Character stabbed, with blood from a wound on torso and from mouth. Reference to death of a parent. Body of dead cat shown and buried. Mention of real-life bombings on the London Underground, though the event itself isn't portrayed. Character receives threatening phone calls and is watched through their window. Ghostly apparition of dead person in home. Pushing and grappling in sexual context and forceful kissing without consent.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing, including forceful kissing without consent. Pushing and grappling in sexual context. Masturbation implied in a dream sequence. Character shown topless in bath.
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Language includes "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "s--tless," and "Jesus Christ."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink wine and beer in home and bar. Bottle of spirits are seen. Some smoking of cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cordelia is a British thriller with adult themes, violent scenes, and strong language. Cordelia (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) is a woman living with the ongoing effects of trauma. She develops an increasingly disturbing relationship with her neighbor, Frank (Johnny Flynn), during a weekend home alone. Filmed in a deliberately disjointed style, there are scenes of violence, including a stabbing with blood from the torso and mouth, as well as threatening phone calls and stalking behavior. A woman is shown topless in a non-sexual context and there is forceful kissing without consent and pushing and grappling in a sexual context. Language includes variants of "f--k" and "s--t." There is also occasional drinking and smoking.
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What's the Story?
In CORDELIA, a young woman spends the weekend alone in her dark, dingy London flat. As past traumas resurface and she spirals into paranoia, Cordelia (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) meets her charming neighbor Frank (Johnny Flynn) and strikes up a relationship. But what initially seems like a welcome escape soon starts to feel more like a trap, leading to the question; who can we really trust?
Is It Any Good?
A fractured thriller that has a tightly wound atmosphere, but a slightly looser grip on its plot, this is a movie of two parts that only half succeeds. Low-lit interiors, flickering lights, ominous shadows … the tension in Cordelia is alive in the sets as much as in the actors themselves. Both Campbell-Hughes and Flynn play their characters, Cordelia and Frank, with a veil of secrecy and mystery that adds to the nervy atmosphere. Bleeding together dream and reality, the film toys with perceived reality, as the pair play a game of cat and mouse, their roles never quite clearly defined.
Unfortunately the plot only intrigues up until the final half hour. Then it seems to detach and float into a dreamlike state of bypassing the whys and hows in favor of the unsettling and slightly bizarre. Instead of wrapping up or leaving it open, the ending almost bleeds away, leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction that doesn't quite live up to the movie's early promise.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of trauma and related mental health issues in Cordelia. Did it handle these themes sensitively? Why is that important?
Discuss the violence in the film. How did it affect you? How much was actually shown? How realistic did it seem? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Talk about the strong language in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?
How was sex portrayed in the movie? Was it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
There is an aspect of the unreliable narrator in the movie. How did it affect your experience as a viewer? Can you think of other films that use a similar device?
- In theaters: May 20, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: May 20, 2022
- Cast: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Johnny Flynn, Michael Gambon
- Director: Adrian Shergold
- Studio: Screen Media
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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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.
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