Parents' Guide to

Empire of Light

By Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Romantic drama touches on racism, mental health; language.

Movie R 2022 119 minutes
Empire of Light movie poster

A Lot or a Little?

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

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Written and directed by Sam Mendes, this British romantic drama is a celebration of both cinema and the importance of human relationships. Empire of Light also tackles themes around racism, mental health, and abuse of power within the workplace, which are all packaged up into a beautiful looking movie. The problem is that these are big themes and ones that need exploring thoroughly and with due care, rather than being used as plot points to jump back and forth.

That's not to say there's not much to enjoy from the film. As mentioned, Roger Deakins' cinematography looks incredible, and the two central performances are just as impressive. Colman is given license to show her full skillset, with Hilary ranging from quiet to manic. While Ward more than holds his own as Hilary's younger and kind lover, Stephen. The soundtrack also packs a punch, Mendes once again recruiting the talents of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. But it's perhaps because of this wealth of talent that Empire of Light leaves you feeling a little short changed.

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