A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Petals on the Wind is a gothic thriller that's based on a book series about a perverse family. This movie loosely follows the plot and characterization of the book of the same name, so those who have read it know what viewers are in for: brother/sister incest, which in this film progresses to passionate on-screen make-out sessions and (implied) sex (with no nudity). There also are references to child molestation, including a scene wherein a character who is purportedly under 18 is fondled (the actor playing that character, Bailey Buntain, is over 20, and looks it). Characters also have adulterous sex on-screen, resulting in an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. A man beats his girlfriend during an intimate scene; she stays with him and makes excuses for his violence. There are other disturbing violent images, including the sudden death-by-suicide of one character (her body is shown; no gore), and a woman being burnt to death in a bed as she screams. There are a few curse words, as well as many references to sex and sin, including very vulgar references to incest.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Picking up a decade after the events of Flowers in the Attic, which ended with the Dollanganger children escaping their attic prison and abusive family, PETALS ON THE WIND opens with an adult Cathy (Rose McIver) about to head to New York to pursue her dream of being a dancer, Christopher (Wyatt Nash) still longing for Cathy but working his way through medical school, and a miserable high-school-age Carrie (Bailey Buntain), who feels lost at her snooty girls' school and desperately wishes she could reconnect with her cruel mother, Corinne (Heather Graham). But Corinne is comfortably ensconced at Foxworth Hall, married to her handsome new husband Bart (Dylan Bruce), her joy only slightly marred by the gloomy presence of her bedridden mother, Olivia (Ellen Burstyn). Olivia knows Corinne's secrets, and she's not afraid to blurt them out; she's also hatching a scheme to get Olivia out of her hair for good. She's not the only one scheming, however. When Cathy starts losing the most important people in her life, one by one, she blames her mother. Now she's bent on revenge, and she'll stop at nothing to make sure Corinne gets what's coming to her.
Is it any good?
Soapy, sudsy, and scandalous, this take on the much-beloved (and much-reviled) V.C. Andrews book is a lot more fun than Lifetime's previous Flowers in the Attic. That last movie seemed to be asking audiences to take the wacky dramatic turns seriously. This follow-up, despite being rushed to production mere months after Flowers pulled in millions of nostalgic viewers, is so over the top that it's a guilty pleasure that's a lot more pleasurable: Cathy and Chris giving each other significant looks, and panting kisses! Christopher's (invented-for-the-movie) bride-to-be walking in on the siblings making out! A super-hot Julian (Will Kemp) saying things like, "I'm a bastard when I drink"!
Of course, a lot was trimmed to make a long, plot-stuffed book compact enough for TV-movie running time. There's no creepy adoptive-father-turned-lover Paul and no bloody miscarriage at Cathy's big ballet audition, and Carrie's screen time is cut drastically. It may also make V.C. Andrews fans annoyed that some subplots were invented for this adaptation, including a saccharine-sweet girlfriend for Christopher (who, granted, doesn't have a lot to do in the novel) and having Corinne obsessed with renovating Foxworth Hall. What was the point of that, exactly? Still, this one's pretty fun and required watching for former 13-year-olds who read the original novel secretly in bed with a flashlight.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the book series that this movie is based on. When was it popular? Why? Did Mom or Dad read it? What did you think about it?
What audience is Lifetime attempting to woo with this movie? Does this type of movie fit in with the type of viewer the network is trying to attract?
What age are the characters in this movie? Do they look the ages they're portraying? Or do they look older, or younger? Is it hard to tell how much time is passing in the movie based on the ages the characters appear to be?
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