Fathers and Daughters

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Fathers and Daughters Movie Poster Image
Well-acted drama about emotional trauma has sex, drinking.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Never give up. Don't let a traumatic past dictate your future; forgiveness is possible. Writers don't know when they've done their best work.

Positive Role Models & Representations

After his wife's death, Jake does his best to raise 8-year-old daughter Katie despite money worries and health problems. Decades later, she struggles with abandonment issues, falling back into old, self-destructive habits out of fear. A cold-hearted, judgmental aunt tries to steal the young Katie away in a custody battle. A devoted lover won't let the adult Katie go when her fear of abandonment threatens their relationship.


A car accident is briefly depicted, mostly through sound effects. A bandaged body is briefly wheeled through a hospital hall on a gurney. A man shoves someone who's insulted him at a party. A man has repeated violent seizures, leaving him shaking uncontrollably on the floor.


A young woman repeatedly picks up men at bars and has anonymous sex with them -- in a car, in a bathroom stall, at her house. A couple is seen in the bathtub together from the shoulders up.


"F--k," "s--t," "prick," "ass," "come."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol, sometimes to excess. A woman repeatedly goes to bars alone, drinks beers, and picks up men.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fathers and Daughters is an emotional, intense drama about the lasting effects of traumatic childhood experiences. Katie (Amand Seyfried) is damaged young woman who lost her parents as a child and, as an adult, habitually picks up men for anonymous sex, a symptom of her inability to feel and her fear of further loss. The movie also shows scenes from Katie's painful past: Her mother dies in a car accident after having an argument about infidelity with Katie's father (Russell Crowe), who was driving. He struggles with lasting injuries and stays in the hospital for months. Sex is implied, and kissing in bed is seen, but there's no graphic nudity. Adults drink to drown their sorrows, and language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "prick."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJenny F. May 22, 2017

The lasting effects of childhood trauma

I really loved Fathers and Daughters, a movie about the lasting effects of childhood trauma. It is especially touching to a person who has actually gone through... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byclaxon29 March 14, 2019
I am a 14 year old girl, and this movie is a very strong one that involves strong content. I saw the movie twice because it really moved me, I really liked it,... Continue reading

What's the story?

FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS is the name of the novel that Jake, a loving father (Russell Crowe), writes as a love letter to his 8-year-old daughter, Katie. Her mother died in a car accident caused by Jake's speeding; he also sustained brain injuries that caused seizures and manic-depressive episodes. Jake struggles to be a great father, writing madly to keep bread on the table, but he's advised that unless he checks into a mental institution for electroshock therapy, he will deteriorate, threatening his ability to care for his daughter. During Jake's seven months of treatment, Katie stays with her wealthy aunt and uncle, and soon they sue for custody, which ruins Jake financially. Intercut with this is Kate's story more than 20 years later, as she struggles to feel love and make connections -- abilities that were derailed by her early loss.  

Is it any good?

Overall, this is a moving, well-acted drama about the struggles of surviving childhood trauma. It falls prey to the pitfalls of movies about writers -- watching them commit genius to paper is never particularly dramatic. And in its efforts to prove the depth of the relationship between father and daughter, the movie has a few cloying, clichéd moments of daddy-kid bonding and affection. The villains, too, are a bit more predictably villainy than necessary. The aunt who wants to steal Katie from her father is emotionally cold and drinks too much, while her slick lawyer husband is just a tad too rich and smug to be more than a telegraphic signal of Bad Guy.

But it's to the movie's credit that stars Crowe, Amand Seyfried, Aaron Paul, and Kylie Rogers (who admirably plays Katie at age 8), make even weak moments in Fathers and Daughters' plot work well. Seyfried makes her character's battle to trust in the possibility of love believable and involving, and her scenes with a young traumatized patient (played by Quvenzhane Wallis) are some of the best in the film.   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Fathers and Daughters tackles emotional trauma. Do you think the girl that adult Katie helps reminds her of her own suffering as a child? How does that help her move forward?

  • How does the movie portray Jake as a father? Is he sympathetic despite his flaws? Why do you think Katie's aunt and uncle try to take her from her him?

  • How does the movie portray drinking and sex? Is either glamorized at all? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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