Guest of Honour

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Guest of Honour Movie Poster Image
Convoluted drama has mature themes, drinking.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Things aren't always what they seem.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A priest is a kind and attentive presence, but no one is exemplary or aspirational.


Several deaths, including via suicide. Pushing and shoving. Death threat. Carcasses of rabbits at a butcher; one that died naturally is mutilated.


Hand holding. Discussion of an alleged affair between adults. Implications of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and students. Actors portraying teens are shown in their underwear.


Infrequent use of "f--king."


Logo on Apple computer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking wine in a social situation and smoking leads to consequences. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guest of Honour is a sometimes confusing Canadian drama from Atom Egoyan about a food inspector (David Thewlis) who's trying to understand the circumstances behind his daughter's incarceration. While nothing sexual occurs on-screen, some mature matters are discussed, including obsession, infidelity, and a teacher-student relationship. Teen characters are seen in their underwear. (On the other side of the coin, a woman quickly and confidently squashes unwanted male attention.) The plot touches on several deaths, including death of a parent, death of a pet, and suicide. While that may sound like a lot to take in, the film's muted delivery makes it less emotionally impactful. Frankly, what may be most upsetting to teens is a scene in a restaurant kitchen that shows dead, fluffy rabbits stacked up for meal preparation. Smoking and social drinking lead to negative consequences; swearing isn't frequent but includes "f--king."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytheMOVIEloverforLIFE August 14, 2020

A well made drama movie;intense images

A well-made drama movie is very amazing! But this is for older teens! Some violence is intense to see! PG-13: some intense violence and strong language
Adult Written bymovieraterandlo... July 12, 2020

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In GUEST OF HONOUR, former high school music teacher Veronica (Laysla De Oliveria) is planning funeral services for her late father, Jim (David Thewlis). To help the priest (Luke Wilson) deliver a more personal service, Veronica shares her memories of key moments in their shared life, including why she blames her father for her years of incarceration. 

Is it any good?

Atom Egoyan once again dwells in the world of destructive family secrets and mistrust with some out-of-boundaries sex stuff -- but as juicy as that may sound, it's a drudge. The fact that lead character Jim is a food inspector says it all. This is a job that's rarely highlighted on the big screen because it's often dull and stomach turning, at least as evidenced here. Of course, there's more to the story: Jim was a restaurant owner with dreams of building an empire, but life had other plans. As did Veronica, a gifted composer and music teacher. How she winds up in jail is the mystery Jim tries to solve along with the viewer. (Secrets, you see ... ) But Veronica is clearly so angry with her father that she'd rather shame him for something she didn't do than just share with him what it was that he did.

It's all not as shocking as Egoyan thinks. When the reveals come, you can feel the writer-director hearing a "bah-bum-bum!" But to viewers, the curtain is pulled back just to reveal a shade. Guest of Honour is told in such a painfully slow way that it's like hearing the 10-minute version of a 30-second event. The more the film continues, the more complex the characters get -- and the less you're inclined to like them. Often, it's not as enlightening as it is aggravating: They're gross. Wilson's priest may be forgiving of the characters' choices, but parents will be less likely to shrug off their transgressions. The good news, then, is that it's hard to imagine teens will stay plugged into this cloudy, drawn-out tale -- and why should they? It's a yawn of human anguish. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk how Guest of Honour demonstrates the damage that can comes from a lack of communication. Why is it important to not make assumptions?

  • Families can also talk about "gaslighting." Veronica's father tries to prove to her that her memory is incorrect. How is invalidation damaging?

  • How are smoking and drinking portrayed? Is substance use glamorized or made to seem cool?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love complex characters

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