Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Fatale Movie Poster Image
Sexy noir thriller has gun violence, drinking, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

One bad choice can ruin your life. 

Positive Role Models

Derrick is shown trying to make his marriage and business work through effort and communication, but when he cheats on his wife at his friend's recommendation, he puts himself on a destructive path. Positive representation in the form of two successful Black entrepreneurs who grew a small management company into a multimillion dollar firm. However, that success is represented in stereotypically materialistic ways.


Several instances of gun violence that lead to bloody shootings and death. Stabbings. Fighting and punching. Attackers are hit with hard objects.


Frequent sex scenes with movements. A woman's side butt is exposed, but no explicit nudity. Plot revolves around infidelity. 


Strong language includes: "ass," "bitch," "s--t," and several uses of "f--k" and "motherf--king." Music lyrics say "p---y" and the "N" word.


Main character lives in a luxurious mansion overlooking Los Angeles and drives a Lamborghini. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent drinking -- to celebrate, to party, and to drown characters' sorrows. One character is in recovery from an alcohol dependency. Main character drives drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fatale is a modern noir thriller starring Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy. The story is set in motion when a businessman disguises his married status so he can have a one-night stand; when encounters the woman -- a police detective -- again, it's unclear whether their indiscretion will have greater consequences. Beyond infidelity, the plot involves other mature subject matter: alcohol dependency, child endangerment, and child custody issues. Characters drink frequently: It's shown as something to do in both good times and bad. The main character drives all over Los Angeles when it's clear that he's had too much to drink -- while there are consequences for his vodka consumption, there aren't any for getting behind the wheel. Expect plenty of sex, with a couple of rip-the-clothes-off moments that are high in sensuality but low on nudity (side hip/butt is the most sensitive body part exposed). Although there are physical struggles, some of which involve knives, most of the violence comes from gun use, which leads to bloody shootings and death. Strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," and, in song lyrics, the "N" word.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHopingforgoodmovies January 11, 2021


Was looking forward to this movie but the acting ,apart from Hilary ,is so very wooden one could get splinters(to quote another reviewer)
A rather unattractive... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 and 13-year-old Written byLeslie C. December 29, 2020

Wow!!!! A++++

Great acting by Ealy and Swank! Kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. So good!!!
Teen, 15 years old Written byLoranikas303 January 22, 2021

Fatality! (Mortal Kombat sound effect)

Sexy and trash! PS: This movie was released on Dec 18. Thank you for ruining Billie Eyelash's birthday!

What's the story?

In FATALE, successful, married businessman Derrick (Michael Ealy) has a one-night stand in Las Vegas. Later, when an intruder breaks into his Los Angeles home, the detective assigned to the case is Valerie Quinlan (Hilary Swank), the same woman. As Valerie investigates his case, she pulls Derrick further into her world, and he's unsure whether he can escape.

Is it any good?

While it's not a good movie, this moody psychological thriller is a good watch -- especially with friends. The storyline keeps you guessing ... partly because some of the characters' decisions don't make a whole lot of sense, but it's still fun. Swank plays her part with a poker face: You can't tell whether Det. Quinlan is messing with Derrick but truly trying to help him or undermining him and trying to hurt him. What is clear is that Quinlan is playing a game of cat and mouse with Derrick. Like many noir detectives before her, she's hard boiled -- and while it's tough to tell whether she's the villain, she's definitely the antagonist.

While aspirational Black characters are always welcome, the movie doesn't escape stereotypes. The movie signals Derrick's success in cliched, materialistic ways: His clients are pro athletes, he drives a Lamborghini, and his wife looks like a model (in real life, Damaris Lewis was a model before turning to acting). And his Mullholland Drive home is so beautiful that it's a distraction -- it's easy to get lost in the set design and lose the story. But that's probably more of a problem for adults. For teens, Fatale provides the same psychological reward as a horror film: It puts viewers in the role of the wiser friend, shouting at the screen, "No! Don't go there! What are you doing?" Yes, there are holes in the reasoning, but this isn't a dumb film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Fatale's message that one mistake can change your life. Do you agree? Why, or why not? Can you think of other movies that have tackled a similar subject?

  • What is a "flim noir"? How does this film fit into the noir genre? If you've seen classic film noir movies, how does this one compare?

  • How do you feel about a main character who cheats on his wife? Does your opinion change if you believe she was unfaithful to him, too?

  • How does the movie portray drinking? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How does the film's portrayal of its Black characters undermine or reinforce stereotypes? Why is representation in the media important?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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