Every Breath You Take
By Tara McNamara,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mature thriller about grief explores intense emotions.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's not enough that you love someone; they need to feel your love. Themes of grief and forgiveness.
Positive Role Models
Dr. Philip Clark demonstrates great self-control, but we learn that it may be a coping mechanism that's not always the healthiest choice. Overall, the central family is highly dysfunctional and lacks the ability to communicate.
Violence & Scariness
Dead body lying in a pool of blood. Suicide attempts. Characters deal with loss, including that of a child. Several instances of family members in deep peril, although sometimes the audience knows it more than the characters. Teen girl assaulted. Physical fight with beatings and a weapon. Daughter yells at parents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Steamy sex scene in which clothes are removed, with close-ups of facial expressions; no sensitive body parts shown. Teen girl gets into a romantic relationship with a man in his 30s that includes kissing.
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"F--k" uttered a few times.
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Products & Purchases
Mercedes and Range Rover vehicles are featured prominently, indicating likely product placement.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Aspirational characters smoke. References to teen drug use.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Every Breath You Take is a psychological thriller about processing grief, including the loss of a child. It's about how loss impacts us, and deaths are depicted -- including a body lying in a pool of blood. Suicide attempts are also shown. All of the characters are emotionally flailing, which results in inappropriate intimate relationships, including one between a teen girl and a man in his 30s. A moment of passion leads to a clothes-ripping-off sex scene, but there's no graphic nudity. A teen acts out by smoking and drinking (on camera) and drug use (which is referred to). "F--k" is used a few times. Casey Affleck and Sam Claflin co-star.
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Every Breath You Take
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What's the Story?
EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE follows a psychiatrist named Philip Clark (Casey Affleck) who's treating a woman named Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind) using an unusual approach. After he shares his findings in a professional setting, she dies via suicide. With his career and credibility in jeopardy, Philip is unaware of his family's attachments to Daphne's brother, James (Sam Claflin).
Is It Any Good?
For adults, this Cape Fear wannabe could be seen as a flawed script with characters who make iffy decisions -- but for families with older teens, it could actually be subconsciously brilliant. Thanks to the film's third-person perspective, viewers' suspicions are raised about the interloper in the Clark family before the characters start to feel like something is off. As with a good horror film, we scream at the screen: "No! Don't do it!" Viewers may find themselves feeling smarter than the characters -- and that can be particularly useful when it comes to teens. It's almost a practice run for actively recognizing dangerous situations; kids who are faced with a relatable situation in real life may be more likely to listen to their intuition because they've "been in" this situation before.
Plus, by making the lead character a psychiatrist who works in a university setting, behavioral patterns are identified. The rich irony is that Dr. Clark helps other people cope with their mental health challenges while his own family is falling apart. There's a great lesson to be learned here about the power of communication when it's so abundantly clear how the lack of it is destroying the Clark family. And at the same time, unfolding the mistakes of "an expert" (even a fictional one) allows parents to be more aware of the ways we interact with our own families. So while some plot points in Every Breath You Take will likely leave you shaking your head (the ending's "big reveal" logically could have been dealt with at the beginning with a simple internet search), the film has the potential to foster empathy and understanding about the fact that we all handle our trauma differently, and not always well -- and that a little compassion can go a long way. A weak film that's actually doing some good? That's some excellent reverse psychology.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the importance of communication in a family. How does lack of communication create deeper issues for the Clarks?
Discuss the moments in which each of the Clarks pauses before ignoring their intuition or better judgment. How can predators take advantage of kindness?
How are the suspense/thriller and horror genres related? Why is it empowering to know when the characters are about to make a poor decision?
How is the setting of Every Breath You Take -- the family's home -- symbolic of the family's relationship to one another?
How does Philip demonstrate self-control? What are the possible consequences -- positive or negative -- that might have occurred had he not self-regulated his emotions?
- In theaters: April 2, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 27, 2021
- Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Sam Claflin
- Director: Vaughn Stein
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence and language, and brief sexuality
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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