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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie makes pointed commentary on child trafficking, and how not enough is being done to stop it.
Positive Role Models
While flawed, Sally is a fiercely independent trucker who finds camaraderie and commiseration with other female truckers and tries to make things right when circumstances put her in the care of Leila, a child trying to escape traffickers.
Lead character is a female trucker who witnesses the sexism and dark side of trucking and truck stops.
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Violence & Scariness
Talk of child abuse. FBI agents enter a house where child trafficking occurred -- scenes of a basement in which kids would be chained to the wall while an attack dog roamed around them. Characters shot and killed. Vehicle chases. Girl tied up after fighting an adult -- punches and biting. Lead character beaten and nearly robbed while she's drunk. At a truck stop, implied victims of trafficking walk around, approach trucks.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual innuendo between truckers.
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Strong language throughout. "F--k" often used. Also "motherf----rs," "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lead character gets drunk in a bar, is later assaulted and nearly robbed. Booze and beer drinking in a bar. Talk of a mother's prescription drug addiction.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Paradise Highway is a 2022 drama in which Juliette Binoche plays a trucker who helps a girl try to escape a human trafficking ring. The movie talks about human trafficking, and in one scene, FBI agents enter a house in which trafficked kids were kept, including the basement where they were chained while an aggressive dog stalked around them. Characters are shot and killed. There are vehicle chases as well as binge-drinking in a bar. The lead character gets drunk in a bar and is later assaulted and nearly robbed. Fighting includes punches, kicks, and biting. There's talk of child abuse and talk of prescription drug addiction. Sex workers (victims of trafficking) are seen in a truck stop. Strong language throughout includes "f--k" and "motherf----rs. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a potentially powerful and moving true crime drama centered on child trafficking that's marred by true crime drama clichés, uneven pacing, and at least one miscast lead. Paradise Highway stars Juliette Binoche as Sally, a trucker who grew up in rural Arkansas who comes across as French Canadian, which doesn't really make sense. Her soon-to-be-paroled brother Dennis, played by Frank Grillo, doesn't really sound like someone from the rural South either. When Sally is tricked into transporting a 10-year-old girl named Leila (played by Hala Finley in one of the better performances), a murder shortly after attracts the attention of a retired FBI agent and an FBI agent fresh out of Yale.
The grouchy-retired-agent-paired-with-the-rookie -academic-agent opposite dynamic quickly grows stale after the first five times the grouch agent (played by Morgan Freeman) calls his partner by the inevitable "Yale" nickname. (Is it asking too much to have a cop-centered movie in which the partners are best buds with much in common, thus finding other sources of conflict?) These conventions and clichés dilute the more powerful moments of the movie, and those center on the crisis of child trafficking. The movie tries to do a lot with these characters -- so much so that some aspects to them come across as not fully developed, such as Sally's past life and present life as a trucker -- and the exchange between her and Freeman's character adds nothing but more clichés. In spite of all of this, there's still enough to the story and the powerful sense of what's at stake to make it reasonably resonant and enjoyable, but there's the lingering feeling that this should have been better than it is.
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