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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Jamie, who has spent his life hiding away due to his large birthmark, eventually conquers his fear -- leaning that beauty is only skin deep and that people can love him despite his appearance. But he goes to drastic means to learn this lesson and makes several seriously problematic choices in the process. Still, you could argue that Jamie's tale is a cautionary one and that viewers can learn from his mistakes.
Positive Role Models
Jamie takes the wrong path, including murder, to reach the conclusion that his unusual appearance doesn't really matter to people that love him. By the time he truly realizes that, he's already "made a deal with the devil," and it's too late for him.
Violence & Scariness
Gangs prowl the London streets; they use Molotov cocktails to start fires, and characters are burned (one character magically tears off his blackened skin to reveal new skin underneath). One murder victim's chest is sliced open with a knife, and his heart is removed. Viewers also see guns, terrifying monsters with razor-sharp teeth, and severed heads that come to life. Characters fight, and there's lots of blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The hero and his girlfriend have sex in bed (no graphic nudity). The hero brings home a male hustler, and there's some sexual innuendo. The hustler strips naked and is covered with plastic wrap, but again, no graphic nudity is shown.
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Characters use "f--k" and "f--king" every chance they get (which is very often!). Other words include "hell" and "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters go out for cocktails on more than one occasion. The hero has a difficult time drinking hard liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this bizarre British horror/fantasy from cult director Philip Ridley is filled with violent, terrifying images -- including plenty of blood and gore and people burning to death. The story is a classic deal-with-the-devil tale in which the hero pays an awful price to get what he wants -- but it also has elements of a sweet romance, and the main character learns to come to terms with the birthmark that has tormented him since childhood ... though not before he's done some pretty terrible things. Language is very strong, including near-constant use of "f--k," and there are some sexual situations, but no graphic nudity is shown. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Directed by Philip Ridley, HEARTLESS is nothing if not imaginative. It's a visually bizarre update of the deal-with-the-devil "Faust" legend, with a range of amazing, hilarious, terrifying, and romantic images bashing up against one another in an eerily natural way. It could almost be likened to Twilight, but for a more adventurous set.
Jim Sturgess gives an appealing performance as the withdrawn Jamie, who's almost constantly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of love and horror in the world. Ridley fills out the rest of the movie with great character actors, including Ruth Sheen, Timothy Spall, and a terrific Eddie Marsan as the "weapons man." But despite all of this wonder and sensation, there's something slightly off-putting and distant about the movie; Ridley can't quite connect with his audience the way more passionate "dark fantasy" filmmakers like Terry Gilliam and Guillermo Del Toro can. Even so, Heartless is remarkable in many ways and is worth the effort for older teens and adults.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.