A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that From Time to Time deals with the potential loss of a parent, as well as complex family relationships. Young Tolly Oldknowe's father is missing-in-action somewhere in Europe near the end of World War II and the boy's concern motivates his behavior throughout. Two stories, one set in 1944, the other in 1811 are intercut, interrelated, and take place in the same great house. Key to the stories are the presence of ghosts (somewhat eerily revealed, but ultimately not threatening) and Tolley's ability to see into the past, enter that past, and impact it. It's more suspenseful than scary, except for a lengthy sequence in which a fire threatens the people assembled in the Oldknowe house. A young black child is mistreated by some members of the white household, but championed by others. A dead rabbit, soon to be prepared and eaten, lies on a kitchen table during one scene.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
World War II is in its last days. Tolly Oldknowe's British soldier dad is missing somewhere in Europe and, to keep Tolly safe, his mom sends him to stay with his grandmother in the family's grand house in the English countryside. There's been some estrangement, and, at first, Tolly is wary of his granny (Maggie Smith). As the two explore a relationship, Tolly encounters profound secrets about the old house, and finds himself witness to an extraordinary story about a blind girl, missing jewels, and a runaway slave that took place over 100 years earlier. Ghosts are his guides; his grandmother becomes his closest ally and friend.
Is it any good?
Written and directed by Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, FROM TIME TO TIME is a beautifully made family saga with wonderful performances. Its two timeless stories complement each other and deliver a rich view of two distinct periods in world history. Tolly learns to trust, to love freely, and to come to terms with good and evil, as well as with the brevity of some lives.
It's a film to be shared and enjoyed by families with older kids and teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what "timeless" means. Tolly's story takes place in 1944; Susan's story takes place in 1811. Remembering that, explain the word "timeless." What do you think kids today have in common with Tolly and Susan?
Though there are no battle scenes, in what ways does this film show what happens during wartime? How does World War II affect Tolly's family?
- In theaters: October 25, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2012
- Cast: Alex Etel, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall
- Director: Julian Fellowes
- Studio: Ealing Studios
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements and peril
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love watching together
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch