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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Firelight is a sensitive made-for-TV movie that explores the possibility for redemption among a group of girls confined to a detention center. The inmates are racially diverse and realistic without being scary and/or sexualized as is typical for "women in prison" movies. (In other words, no cat fights.) There's some mention of past crimes and abuse, as well as a scene with a married couple in bed kissing. Some of the firefighting scenes are a bit scary.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Caroline (Q'Orianka Kilcher) commits a robbery with her boyfriend, and they're both nabbed by police. Since she's not yet 18, Caroline winds up in a detention center with other teens and young women, under lockdown and the benevolent care of D.J. (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the detention center's head counselor. D.J. sees possibilities in Caroline, who, despite her troubled past and near-mute facade, is smart, creative, and hungry for love. Slowly, with the help of a group of inmates involved in a firefighting training program, D.J. reaches Caroline and shows her that she has both a future and people who care whether she makes it there.
Is it any good?
Firelight could have gone wrong in so many ways, turning nasty/sexy like Sucker Punch or preachy like Lean on Me; instead, it's deeply moving. It's grim at times without being overly scary, and, ultimately, it's uplifting.
FIRELIGHT hearkens back to the days when networks competed with each other to unleash big movie events. Since then, made-for-TV movies have sunk to the Sharktopus level. This is something else again. Every single character in Firelight is granted dignity, even the villains, and the main characters mess up, then try, then mess up again, and try again. It's all so triumphant that you might hear the Rocky theme playing in your head when Caroline drops her bad attitude and picks up a firehose instead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Caroline committed the crime that led to her being sent to the detention center. Why do people commit crimes? What is the movie's message about criminality?
Do you think Firelight is a realistic portrait of what it's like to be in a detention center with young criminals? Why or why not? How does what the characters wear, do, and say contribute to your opinion?
What aspect of the detention center was most off-putting? Confinement? Isolation? The hostility from the other inmates? Something else?
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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.