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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Certainly some history to be learned here, and story illustrates importance of fight for one's rights against corrupt leaders. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in.
Positive Role Models
Movie never really focuses on any single character, and the ones who do come to light are very flawed, not particularly admirable or worth emulating; the characters' coming together is more admirable.
Violence & Scariness
Infrequent but strong scenes of violence. Battlefield with exploding shells, screaming, etc. Soldiers attack with swords; slicing, bloody wounds. Soldiers punch civilians, including women. Dead bodies. Men are clobbered with sword handles. Men are arrested and forcibly thrown in cells, beaten, kicked. General hysteria, chaos, screaming. Throwing potato at carriage, breaking window. Some guns and shooting. Harsh descriptions of whipping, hanging, imprisonment.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man and woman sleep in the same bed fully clothed.
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Use of "bastards," "ass," "scum." "Jesus Christ."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some social/background drinking: beer, brandy. A woman is said to have been intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Peterloo is a historical epic from Oscar-nominated writer/director Mike Leigh. Set in 1819, it focuses on the efforts of Britain's laboring class to attain representation in Parliament. The movie's many speeches and debates are intelligent and educational, but it's awfully dry. And there are some sequences of strong violence, including battlefield scenes with exploding shells, the military attacking a crowd of demonstrators, characters being beaten, slicing and stabbing with swords, guns/shooting, and people being forcibly thrown in cells, kicked, and beaten. Dead bodies and general carnage are also shown. Language includes uses of "bastard," "ass," and "scum," and there's some casual drinking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Mike Leigh is a master of character-based dramas, but this long period epic doesn't really bother with characters; it focuses instead on arguments and speeches ... lots of speeches. Peterloo is intelligently written, and the dialogue sounds fine; history buffs who already know the story may be enthralled by the down-to-brass-tacks approach. But it isn't a dynamic movie -- it feels dry and static. It doesn't move or engage the same way that something like Steven Spielberg's Lincoln did. Part of the problem is the enormous tapestry of faces that passes before the camera; you're likely to have very little idea of who anyone is or know who's going to stick around.
Some characters who seem like they're going to be important simply disappear, and others are introduced so quickly that it takes a while to realize who they are. Meanwhile, the government men and royalty are portrayed as absolute monsters. (An awkward maid named Bessie is the only real standout, getting a few small laughs in her couple of scenes.) Another problem is that, while the dialogue feels historically accurate -- and appropriately, righteously angry -- it's mostly just shouting and debating. Rarely, if ever, does a character say something about who they actually are, which is the polar opposite of how other Leigh movies (Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year, Mr. Turner) operate. As one character complains in one scene, it's all "talk, talk, talk," and no action.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.