Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Mothers will do anything for their kids, including sacrificing themselves. Families and neighbors can be very close-knit even in the direst of circumstances.
Positive Role Models
Rita and other mothers protect their daughters. Ana and her friends watch out for each other. Members of drug cartels threaten and kidnap girls from a village. A young boy works labor jobs instead of going to school and eventually becomes an apprentice to drug dealers. Schoolteachers come and go from the village because they too are under threat from the cartels. One teacher is especially inspirational and offers lessons based on life in the village.
The film is set in a rural village in Mexico where most people live in poverty. A girl has a cleft lip but no local doctor to give her a needed surgery.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Violence both real and anticipated, meaning there's a palpable sense of fear among the characters throughout the film. Members of the military parole streets occasionally with rifles drawn. Drug cartels kidnap girls and bribe locals to make payments to ensure their own safety. A girl is found dead with a warning note left on her body, and others go missing. An entire family goes missing, leaving their house a mess. A mother drinks out of desperation and throws her glass at her daughter; she threatens to knock out her daughter’s teeth if she wears lipstick again. Gunshots are heard in the distance, as are racing cars. Teens practice shooting a gun and one points it at the other. Kids have grave-like hiding spots outside their homes. Pesticides are sprayed over fields occasionally from a helicopter -- one girl gets covered by a cloud of it and her friends have to urgently wash her off, a cow has to be burned when it's poisoned.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen girls joke about their crushes, including on their new teacher. A child says her mom and dad kiss with tongue. A school poster illustrates male and female reproductive systems. Two teens dance at a rodeo. A girl has her first period and we see the blood on her underwear.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"F--k, “a--hole,” “hell,” “moron,” “idiot,” “Lord.” The film was reviewed in Spanish with English subtitles.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens and adults drink beer. A mother gets drunk. Villagers work harvesting poppy fields for the local drug cartel; it’s one of the only ways to make money in town. Someone describes how the drugs are hidden inside lion’s poop to avoid detection at airports.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's a palpable sense of fear throughout the nearly two hours of Prayers for the Stolen, a book-based Mexican drama. The film, which premiered at Cannes and was nominated to represent Mexico for the international Oscar, is set in a poor rural village terrorized by the local drug cartel, which bribes villagers for their own safety, kidnaps girls, kills people, and also serves as one of the only local employers in harvesting their poppy fields. A girl is found dead with a warning note left on her body, and other girls go missing. An entire family also goes missing, leaving their house a mess. Villagers hear gunshots, see cars racing by and military filing in, get accidentally sprayed by fumigating helicopters, and feel their lives are regularly threatened. Kids have grave-like hiding spots outside their homes. The villagers live in extreme poverty, with no access to regular medical care and a local schoolhouse forced to close regularly when teachers leave under threat from the cartel. Still, there is some magic to childhood in the jungle, and a trio of female friends support each other with imaginary play and friendship. As they grow into adolescence, they have some of the same feelings and experiences of teens everywhere. Mothers defend their kids as best they can while fathers are largely missing, working far from home in order to send money back (or not). Teens and adults drink beer. A mother gets drunk. Language in the English subtitles includes "f--k, "a--hole," "hell," "moron," "idiot," "Lord." 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 film offers a deeply symbolic portrait of violence plaguing a rural Mexican village and the psychological trauma it engenders on its residents, including kids. The ending of Prayers for the Stolen involves an escape, a snapshot of people on the run that feels all too familiar. Understanding the abyss they must escape (or risk dying) could be this film's essential contribution to a global conversation about immigration and refugees. And more than that, the movie is a compelling, emotional, beautifully-shot and compellingly acted two hours. The allegorical use of the land and the animal world of the lush mountain setting works to illustrate the villagers' deep and potentially lifesaving connection to their natural surroundings as well as how that setting in turn shapes their lives.
Prayers stars three main characters, first as young girls whose imaginary play hints at the constant threats they face, and later as giddy adolescents discovering boys and the adult world. Theirs is a reality where a girl's first period is cause for dire fear, where schoolteachers constantly come and go under threat by local cartels, where absentee fathers send money home from faraway jobs (or stop doing so), and where locals survive by harvesting the very poppy fields, which feed an industry that's killing them and their way of life in ways both evident (deadly seasonal fumigations and regular disappearances) and subtle (men moving away or getting caught up in the cartels). With a background in documentaries, director Tatiana Huezo and her cinematographer Dariela Ludlow aren't afraid to settle into ambient noise and slowly unfolding moments, nor to let the camera linger on faces, landscapes, and insects. This languid mood infuses the drama with images, moments, and ideas that stay with you well after the end of the film.
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.