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Into the Forest
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Into the Forest is a drama about two young women living on their own in a remote house in the woods. It's based on a novel by Jean Hegland and has a dystopian/futuristic setting, though it doesn't focus on aliens, action, chases, or killing. Still, there's some strong violence, notably a brutal rape scene (focusing mainly on the woman's face), a chainsaw accident that leaves a bloody wound, and a major death. A wild pig is killed and slaughtered for food; its guts and entrails are shown. Language is infrequent but includes a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t." There's also a sex scene, including kissing and naked breasts, between a loving couple. There are other scenes with a topless woman, and a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth. Some brief drinking/mild drunkenness is shown.
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What's the story?
INTO THE FOREST takes place some time in the future, with sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) living with their father (Callum Keith Rennie) in a remote house in the woods. Nell is studying for her SAT, and Eva is preparing for a dance audition, when -- with no explanation -- the power suddenly goes out. They make do, but when the power doesn't come back on for several days, they realize they must start to prepare for the worst. They venture into town for supplies and ration their gas. After a tragic accident, Nell and Eva must go it alone. As the outage continues for months, the girls learn to grow and hunt their own food, but they must also deal with tough choices and brutal violence -- as well as unexpected gifts.
Is it any good?
Unlike just about every other post-apocalyptic movie ever made, this sisterly drama has no aliens, chases, or fights; it's lushly beautiful, but heavy and soft. Yet its soapy quality may appeal to some audiences. Director Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl) emphasizes the beauties of the outdoors, of living organically off the land. It's frequently raining, and the foliage always looks breathtaking. Add to that the focus on Nell (Ellen Page) training her mind and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) training her body, and it's a perfect picture of what it means to be a human living on Earth.
All that said, Rozema isn't quite so adept at telling her story. The plot turns of Into the Forest, both hopeful and tragic, come in great, thumping chunks. Everything is telegraphed, and it rarely flows. Fortunately, both Page and Wood give strong, brave, open performances, finding the strength to carry the film's emotions and ideas from scene to scene; they're the glue between moments.
Talk to your kids about ...
What do you think makes futuristic/dystopian stories so compelling to audiences? What does Into the Forest have in common with other movies in this genre? How is it different?
What role does sex play in the movie? How does the film's serious tone affect the impact of the scenes involving sex and nudity? How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
What do the characters learn over the course of the movie? What do they accomplish? Does the movie offer role models?
- In theaters: July 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 4, 2016
- Cast: Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Callum Keith Rennie
- Director: Patricia Rozema
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: a scene of violence involving rape, language and some sexuality/nudity
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