Dear Ex

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Dear Ex Movie Poster Image
Boy copes with mourning his gay dad; cursing, violence.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

People may not be who they first seem to be. It's important to be true to yourself. Loyalty and love are tested in difficult times. "Don't lose sleep over something as shallow as money." "Keep secrets so loved ones aren't sad."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chieh is a struggling actor and director who perseveres despite money troubles and disability. The mom, Sanlian, is a noisy, self-pitying, volatile, over-reactive shrew. Chengxi is an angsty teen dealing with difficult circumstances.


Loan sharks beat up a guy who owes them money. A badly broken leg is seen. A teen threatens to jump off a balcony. A man is covered with blood after the death of a loved one.


Two men kiss. A woman tries to unzip her husband's pants. Someone suggests that a wife should act "sluttier" to satisfy her husband. The issue of a gay man marrying in order to seem "normal" is central.



"F--k," "s--t," "damn," "fag," "pervert," "ass," "bastard," "hell," "screw," "bitch," "d--k," and "retard."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and get drunk.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dear Ex, a Taiwanese film in Mandarin with English subtitles, is a mashup of emotions surrounding the revelation to a 14-year-old boy that his deceased father was gay and that he left his money to his gay lover. Two men kiss. Adults smoke cigarettes and get drunk. Loan sharks beat up a man unable to pay back his loan. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "fag," and "bastard." A teen threatens to jump off a balcony. A man is covered with blood after the death of a loved one. The issue of a gay man marrying in order to seem "normal" is central to the movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byannoyinganemone February 19, 2019

Very biased ratings on commonsensemedia

I find it hard to believe that this site gives one star for “great role models.” The movie does a great job of conveying a heroism that lies within imperfect an... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byblxckswan August 1, 2020

Thought Provoking and Complex!

This is movie is a complex one, that needs a lot of thought and understanding of the East Asian culture to truly understand, but it’s definitely worth it! It de... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byaphroditepegasus July 11, 2019

Dear Ex (a journey into a family's grievances)

The movie does a great job of approaching the topic of grief in the most "human" way. It follows the son, his mother and his father's male lover... Continue reading

What's the story?

DEAR EX begins when a wife and mother (Ying-Chuan Hsieh) discovers that Sung (Spark Chen), the gay husband who left her for another man, has left his estate to his lover rather than for the care of their 14-year-old son. We see her in a state of constant hysteria and anger, taking it out on the son, Chengxi (Joseph Huang), who understandably finds her intolerable, and on Chieh (Roy Chiu), the gay lover. The boy is desperate to escape his shrewish mother. Although the mom has pegged Chieh as the family enemy, young Chengxi parks on the guy's doorstep until he allows the boy to move in. This causes the mother to invade Chieh's life as well, as she appears with food and caretaking tips on how to manage Chengxi's schedule, schoolwork, health, eating habits, all the while yelling, screaming, and moaning about how put upon she is. Flashbacks eventually show how Chieh and Sung met, and how Chieh borrowed heavily from loan sharks to pay for Sung's liver transplant. As Sung grew increasingly ill, Chieh lovingly cared for his dying lover. When those facts are revealed, Sung's son and ex-wife embrace and admire Chieh, culminating with the mom offering a gesture of peace, forgiveness, and appreciation.

Is it any good?

This Taiwanese drama is so-so; not terrible but not wonderful, either. On the plus side, Dear Ex is about love and loss, being true to oneself self, and finding the courage to be authentic in the world, and those goals are accomplished well. But good intentions are weighed down by a chaotic style that doesn't organically flow from the plot. A messy and nearly incomprehensible play-within-a-play detracts from the rest of the goings on. Drawings, however cute, come out of nowhere to black out a scene, or adorn a character with wings or a sword. The reason for these flights of fancy are never clear, nor do they especially enhance our understanding of the action.

The gay man who falls deeply in love with the older married man is extremely sympathetic. The fact that he cannot tell his adoring mother that he's gay because he doesn't want to disappoint her is both touching and human, and that is why teens with secrets may find this movie heartening and compelling


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what social pressures might make a man try to hide his homosexuality. What do you think Chengxi's father meant when he said he wanted to be "normal" in Dear Ex?

  • Why do you think a gay person might be afraid to tell a loving parent he or she is gay?

  • Has anyone ever come out to you? Were they afraid of what you would think? How did you react?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love LGBTQ titles

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate