Make Up

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Make Up Movie Poster Image
Genre-bending coming-of-age story has strong language, sex.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie focuses on the importance of exploration and self-discovery, and its potential to lead to acceptance and happiness.

Positive Role Models

Ruth is initially confused and upset by her same-sex attraction, but is able to gradually explore and accept it. Her interest in love is bright and free. This is in contrast to her boyfriend, Tom, who is reserved and displays a lack of warmth. Life on the RV campsite is portrayed as grim and somewhat joyless.


A physical fight breaks out between two characters, though neither is hurt. A character is locked in a caravan against their will and smashes a window with a chair. There is mention of the death of a grandparent. Mild threat includes ominous figures at windows and noises outside, as well as an elderly resident going missing at night and being discovered in a distressed state. A scene involves a particularly gruesome removal of fake nails.


Sex is both implied and portrayed onscreen on a number of occasions, including oral sex, and there is fairly frequent kissing and touching. Full nudity is shown from behind as well as characters seen topless. There is also an instance of masturbation.


Language includes "c--t," "f--k," "f--king," and "s--t," as well as "piss."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarettes are frequently smoked. Occasional misuse of marijuana, with characters seen to be visibly high. Spirits and beers are consumed inside a motor home and at an outdoor gathering, where characters appear mildly intoxicated. One character throws up due to the affects of drink and drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Make Up is a British coming-of-age drama about a teenager who discovers and explores her same-sex attraction, and contains scenes of a sexual nature and strong language. While working at an RV campsite with her boyfriend, Tom (Joseph Quinn), 18-year-old Ruth (Molly Windsor) begins to develop feelings for fellow employee Jade (Stefanie Martini). Sex is represented onscreen -- including oral sex -- and is implied a number of times. There is also nudity. Strong language includes the use of "c--t," "f--k," and "s--t," and characters regularly smoke cigarettes and occasionally smoke pot and drink alcohol. One character throws up as a result of drink and drugs. The movie has a very ominous tone, and moments of mild threat and violence. This includes someone being locked in a motor home, a physical fight, and creepy figures appearing at windows. A gritty slow-burn with surreal elements and adult themes, the movie is suitable for adults and older teens.

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What's the story?

In MAKE UP, 18-year-old Ruth (Molly Windsor) arrives at a holiday park in southern England to spend the summer with her boyfriend, Tom (Joseph Quinn). But, it turns out day-to-day life is less exciting than anticipated and the time she's able to spend with Tom is monotonous and tense. Increasingly Ruth is drawn to fellow employee Jade (Stefanie Martini), whose vibrant spirit and lust for life leads her to experiment with wigs and make up, and explore her identity. As the two spend more time together, Ruth realizes her feelings run deeper than friendship and she struggles to understand and accept her same-sex attraction.

Is it any good?

Make Up is a fantastic debut feature from director Claire Oakley that manages to straddle multiple genres. What at first presents as an eerie thriller gradually becomes a drama about self-discovery and freedom that is handled with an intimate and wildly creative touch by Oakley. Filmed mostly in muted tones, with frequent moments of stillness and quiet, the feeling of isolation and claustrophobia mixed with ominous visions and noises create a heightened state of tension just waiting to be cut.

Windsor makes for a captivating lead, who keeps her cards close to her chest as she navigates the confusing terrain of questioning her sexuality. Subdued pinks and oranges evolve into deep reds in dreamlike flashes that prove a stark contrast to the dreary surrounding environment. This creates an intriguing visual style that will pull more patient viewers into a movie that is somehow both bold and delicate in equal measure -- and a promising debut from a fresh new British filmmaker.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Make Up portrays sex. Is it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Discuss the relationship between Ruth and Jade. How does the movie handle the subject of sexuality? Does it do it well? Why, or why not?

  • How is teen drinking and smoking portrayed in the movie? Is substance use glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Discuss the strong language used. Does it seem necessary or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie?

Movie details

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