Reviving Ophelia

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Reviving Ophelia Movie Poster Image
Teen dating violence makes this a watch-together movie.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie highlights some of the issues surrounding teens, sex, and dating violence. Violence against women has negative consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elizabeth and Kelli are very close. Kelli isn’t perfect, but tries to help her cousin as best as she can. Marie and LeAnn are close sisters.


Contains images of a teenager getting stalked and hit in the face, resulting in facial bruises and a bloody nose. Brief conversations about child abuse. A gun is used to threaten someone. Highlights from a slasher film contain brief images of women screaming and being chased by a killer.


Contains some strong sexual innuendo, plus images depicting specific sexual acts. Some discussion about losing virginity. Shirts come off, but no nudity is visible.


Words like "douche," "slut," "crap," and "pissed" are audible.


IPods and iPhones are frequently visible. Cars sporting the Mercedes-Benz logo are also visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this television movie, which is geared towards teens as well as adults, centers on the abusive relationship between a teenage girl and her boyfriend. While its content is highly dramatic, the movie serves to increase awareness of dating violence among teens. It contains scenes of a young woman getting grabbed and slapped, resulting in facial bruises and a bloody nose. It also contains some strong sexual innuendo, plus clear references to specific sexual acts. Words like "piss," "crap," "douche," and "slut" are occasionally used.

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What's the story?

REVIVING OPHELIA chronicles the lives of two teenagers learning how to cope with issues like violence, sex, and self-esteem. The series stars Rebecca Williams and Carleigh Beverly as Elizabeth and Kelli, two teenage cousins who have grown up sharing everything. When the straight-laced Elizabeth begins a relationship with Mark (Nick Thurston), Kelli begins to suspect that the relationship is becoming abusive. Unfortunately, thanks to Kelli’s rebellious nature, neither her mom Le Ann (Kim Dickens) nor her aunt Marie (Jane Kaczmarek) believe her. Throughout it all, Kelli must also work through her own growing pains, and figure out the kind of person she wants to be.

Is it any good?

This thought-provoking movie is inspired by a chapter of psychologist Mary Pipher’s best-selling book, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. It uses the story of teen abuse to highlight some of the book’s assertions, including the theory that young women make sense of who they are based on the cultural expectations placed on them. It also attempts to address how young women try to reject these expectations.

While Pipher’s message is sometimes diluted by the show’s dramatic plotlines, it succeeds at showing how young women can find themselves in abusive relationships, and how hard it is to break away from them. It also identifies some of the common misconceptions women in abusive relationships have about their role in the abuse. Parents may want to watch this one with their teens, and use it as a way to begin a dialogue with them about some of these issues.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about teenagers, sex, and violence. What kind of pressures do teens face when it comes to making choices about sex? What about tolerating violence? Why are these issues related to a teenager's self-esteem? 

  • How does the media contribute to the way teens think about the issues of sex and violence? Parents can check here for information and advice about talking to your kids about some of these topics. 

Movie details

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