Hemingway & Gellhorn

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Hemingway & Gellhorn Movie Poster Image
Acclaimed writers don't ring true in mature HBO biopic.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 155 minutes

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age 14+
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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn are deeply committed to their work, documenting the awful impact of war upon ordinary people, and their fervor comes through in this film. They make war seem both terrible and glamorous, and in the process they fall hard for each other -- two people drawn to each other's intensity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ernest Hemingway was a towering literary figure, but in this film, he's not especially likeable. He's thin-skinned, jealous of Martha Gellhorn's success, and self-centered, and all of those traits are exacerbated when he gets drunk, which is most of the time. He looks like good fun to have at a party and terrible to live with.

Violence

Many scenes show the two war correspondents at work covering battles that leave numerous bloody casualties. The fiery Hemingway also gets into more than a few fistfights.

Sex

Hemingway and Gellhorn have an intense love affair and a few scenes show them having sex, sometimes in explicit detail that includes vigorous motions and bare breasts and butts.

Language

Occasional swearing, including "bitch," "bastard," "pr--k," "c--t," and "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hemingway was a man with big appetites, and he drinks and smokes throughout the film, often getting drunk. There's plenty of liquor, plenty of cigars, and plenty of cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hemingway & Gellhorn focuses on the intense relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn during their time as war correspondents, and depicts bloody casualties and passionate sex. There are combat scenes that leave bloody and mangled corpses, and plenty of drinking off the battlefield. Many characters smoke cigarettes or cigars, and there's a good bit of swearing, plus bare breasts and bottoms during sex scenes.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byHaileyMarie July 14, 2013

'Heminway & Gellhorn' Doesnt Serve Justice to the Real Writers

'Hemingway & Gellhorn' was disappointing. I was expecting more of a story about the writers themselves and less about their relationship with... Continue reading

What's the story?

Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman), soon to be a famed war correspondent, stumbles into a drunken Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) in a Key West bar, and soon they're both covering the Spanish Civil War, falling in love as bombs fall all around them. The two writers receive accolades for their work and make good partners in the field, in this biopic that's told from Gellhorn's point of view and shows the last act in Hemingway's career. The film includes plenty of well-known supporting characters, including John Dos Passos, Robert Capa and Max Eastman

Is it any good?

HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN is about two famous writers who lived big, exciting lives during important times, but the movie doesn't feel true to life. The Hemingway here is a character, larger than life at all times, even when it's just him and the woman for whom he's falling. He's never small, never off. Owen makes him seem adventurous and fun, but he doesn't seem real. Gellhorn, who serves as the narrator, is the secondary character here, and it sometimes seems like her job in this story is to explain what's happening to Hemingway, who she eventually married. She's there, but she's not the star of her own life.

Part of the problem is the script, which is packed with lines that look great on a page but sound terrible coming from an actor. We get it -- they were great writers -- but they probably didn't speak the same way they wrote. And of course, Hemingway gets the best lines. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the character of Ernest Hemingway. Does this film portray him as a good person? A good husband?

  • How can you find out more about Ernest Hemingway? What are his most famous books? What else was he famous for? Why haven't you heard the name Martha Gellhorn before?

Movie details

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