A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
On life's difficult road, it can be comforting to know that others have gone through the same thing and come out the other side.
Positive Role Models
While his parents have unfairly put him in the middle of their divorce, Jamie is a conscientious son who's there for his mom during a crisis, even though it comes at some personal sacrifice. Representation: Jamie's friends are ethnically diverse; Grace's friend is gay. Jamie broadens the media's traditional view of masculinity: He cries in front of his friends, enjoys poetry.
Violence & Scariness
One character slaps another hard across the face and flips a table over in anger. Character expresses suicidal ideations, and there's an active debate about suicide as a form of compassionate euthanasia. Teacher describes cruel treatment in historic military situations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Infidelity leads to divorce.
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One use of "f--k." Also "bollocks" and "God!" used as an exclamation.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wine served at dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hope Gap is a British drama about an aging couple whose adult son becomes their mediator when they decide to divorce. In one scene, we understand how 29 years of marriage between demonstrative Grace (Annette Bening) and reticent Edward (Bill Nighy) has created a standoff: She whips herself into a tornado of rage and slaps him across the face for refusing to engage with her self-induced drama. Depression leads to suicidal thoughts, but Grace is dissuaded by her son (Josh O'Connor), who uses an argument that would likely be effective for any parent grappling with similar feelings. Other than the mature themes and one use of "f--k," there's very little iffy content here. However, there's also very little for kids. The film seems mostly meant to serve as a comfort for adults going through a difficult time. That's where the title comes into play: The film is a resource you can turn to if you're going through a similar "hope gap." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As much as this dreary drama looks like a movie, it's not: It's a play. It's only cinematic element is the sweeping landscape photography that turns the crisp, cold beauty of Seaford, Sussex, into a metaphor for Grace's chilly marriage. Speaking of Grace, in that role, Bening proves she's a director's fairy godmother: You can hand her a mousy script, and she'll turn in a performance so heartrending, ferocious, and original that the film transforms. (Her British accent here is a shock, but she nails it, of course -- which prompts the realization that if she really were a Brit, we'd be calling her Dame by now.) Her co-stars turn in equally remarkable performances, but they have less to work with. Nighy's Edward is a mild, reserved teacher who volunteers as a Wikipedia contributor for fun: When he falls in love with another woman, he finds the crutch to leave his wife, but only by using his adult son as a shield. And Jamie is a chip off the old block, also shrinking in the presence of his mother, a woman who shows her love by picking at and hammering her family.
But unfortunately Hope Gap is all talk and no action. The characters' conversations could take place anywhere -- like, say, a stage. In fact, it's adapted from one of writer-director William Nicholson's own plays. A two-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter (Gladiator, Shadowlands), Nicholson may be too close to the material. The movie is based on his own parents' divorce after 33 years of marriage. Certainly, it's possible to pull off a talky film about divorce -- see Marriage Story and The Squid and the Whale -- but this attempt lacks the levity and relatability of those scripts. Perhaps Hope Gap's biggest contribution will be marking the point where moviegoers finally start saying, "Well, that director's no Noah Baumbach."
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.
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