People Places Things

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
People Places Things Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful drama about moving on after a marriage ends.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Sometimes you have to let go, even if it's hard, and even if you're letting go of someone you still care deeply about. Trying to hold on to things -- like a failed relationship -- can keep you stuck in place, while letting go can free you to move forward. Heavier themes include dealing with grief and sadness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Will cares deeply about his children and his estranged wife and clearly struggles to do the right thing to make them all happy, even if it prevents him from finding his own happiness. 

Violence

Two men scuffle in a brief dispute that culminates with one punching the other. 

Sex

A few scenes include sexual content/references to sex, including one with a topless woman and another that shows a couple who seems to have just finished having sex. Some kisses. 

Language

Occasional swearing includes "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," "hell," and "a--hole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People drink wine with a meal during an awkward date. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that People Places Things is a quiet, thoughtful romantic drama about a man (played by Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement) who's slowly, finally, coming to terms with his life a year after being dumped by his wife. It's an honest look at grief and sadness, and it shows how tough it can be to move forward when your life is upended -- but also why it's so important to do so. There's some strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and sexual references/moments (including an early scene featuring a topless woman and another in which it's implied a couple has just had sex), as well as several mature discussions about the nature of relationships that make it best for older teens and up. 

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What's the story?

On her twin daughters' fifth birthday, Charlie (Stephanie Allynne) announces that she's not happy in her marriage and that she's leaving her husband, Will (Jemaine Clement). A year later, a still-devastated Will is barely holding it together, using his failed relationship as discussion fodder both in the college class he teaches on creating graphic novels and in his own drawings. While Charlie is about to remarry, Will is still mourning the life he had. He seems stuck in the past until a student sets him up with her mother (Regina Hall), and he starts to realize that he, too, can move forward with his life. 

Is it any good?

This imperfect but compelling drama starts with a bang (Charlie's poorly timed exit) and then slows down, so viewers can really get to see how badly Will is dealing with his new life. He lives for his weekends with his adorable twin daughters (Gia and Aundrea Gadsby) and mopes through everything else, spending his free time pouring his angst into a not-at-all-veiled autobiographical graphic novel about the dissolution of a marriage. Will is stuck, and everyone around him can see it, thanks to Clement's hangdog face effortlessly conveying his quiet despair. 

The turning point of PEOPLE PLACES THINGS comes when a student (Jessica Williams) invites Will home for dinner to meet her mother, a disastrous evening that at least helps Will realize that maybe he needs to move on with his life. Hall, as a literature professor who looks down on graphic novels, is appealing as a single mom who definitely knows what she doesn't need from a man and motivates Will to emerge from his shell. The weak point in the film is Charlie, who's less clear about what she does and doesn't want out of life, leaving the movie imbalanced and one-sided (not that all movies about dissolving marriages need to be even-handed, but she just feels sketched out instead of fully formed). The film begins in fits and starts, and the ending is a bit trite, too, but it's a fairly satisfying look at how real people relate to each other, or fail to do so, in a relationship.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how People Places Things depicts relationships. Are they easy and happy or complicated and sometimes sad? What do you expect out of your own relationships?

  • Why do you think Will and Charlie's marriage fell apart? Why was Charlie unhappy, and what does it take for Will to finally move on with his life? How does he feel about Charlie's impending remarriage? 

Movie details

For kids who love drama and romance

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