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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strength, courage, perseverance in the face of uncertainty are all prominent themes. The idea of never giving up -- no matter how hard things get -- runs throughout. The movie celebrates family while being honest enough to show the difficulties and pressures that come with it.
Positive Role Models
Roona and her family's strength and courage are inspiring. Roona herself, though unable to talk, shows bravery beyond her years as she undergoes numerous operations. For the most part, Roona's parents -- Fatima and Adbul -- face their daughter's situation with positivity, hopeful that she will eventually be able to lead a "normal life." However, Fatima does accuses Abdul of not doing enough, and the documentary certainly portrays her as doing the large share of the care that Roona requires. Some doctors remain hopeful for Roona, while others are less so.
Violence & Scariness
There are a number of distressing scenes involving a child and their illness (hydrocephalus), which has resulted in their head becoming disproportionately large. The chances of their survival is discussed on numerous occasions. They are seen undergoing numerous head and brain operations, with close-ups showing incisions and bloody wounds. The child's head is seen bandaged-up. Both the child and their parent are seen in distress on multiple occasions. Arguing and threats between a married couple. A police officer is seen escorting someone from a building by the collar of their shirt. Reference to someone threatening to kill themselves and the suggestion of a child being given away to an orphanage. Spoiler: A dead child is seen before being wrapped up in a sheet. They are then seen being buried in the ground.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A character is seen bare-chested while getting dressed. Discussion about planning to make a baby.
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Some arguing and a mild threat between a married couple. A child with an abnormally large head, as a result of an illness, is referred to as an "alien."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rooting for Roona is an emotional documentary about a young Indian girl who is born with a severe birth defect, with upsetting scenes and themes throughout. Following the journey of Roona Begum -- born with hydrocephalus, which has caused her head to swell -- as she undergoes various operations, the subject material is intense yet also inspiring. Despite her tender years, Roona shows incredible bravery, as do her parents who remain hopeful that their daughter will eventually be able to have a "normal life." The documentary shows close-ups of the operations, which includes incisions being made in Roona's head to drain fluid. She is seen with bloody wounds and scars on her head. The courage shown by Roona's parents is striking, especially that of Roona's mother, Fatima. However, the film also shows the strain and pressure placed on their marriage, with a heated argument involving an aggressive threat. Spoiler: Heartbreakingly, Roona dies and her lifeless body is seen laid down in her home, while Fatima weeps uncontrollably over her. Roona is then wrapped in a sheet and is seen being buried in the ground. Due to the distressing subject matter and some upsetting scenes, families should consider how emotionally prepared your children are before watching this powerful documentary. The film is dubbed into English. 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 is such an intimate portrayal of a family dealing with a child's illness that it sometimes feels invasive. Yet directors Pavitra Chalam and Akshay Shankar manage to navigate this tricky path and deserve praise for shining a light on something that affects the entire world, but which has the biggest impact on underdeveloped and developing countries, such as Roona's India. Shot over a period of five years in the north-east Indian village of Tripura, Roona -- born with hydrocephalus that has caused her head to swell -- and her parents, Fatima and Abdul, provide inspiration in what is ultimately a desperate situation. Fatima in particular shows remarkable courage -- as well as honesty -- as she talks about the "normal life" that she hopes Roona will one day have. It's testament to the filmmakers how comfortable the family became to allow their most personal thoughts and moments recorded on camera.
Despite being just 41 minutes long, Rooting for Roona is packed with moments of heartbreak. Even the moments we're not directly privy to leave an emotional punch. In one scene, Abdul recounts how people told them that Roona's illness was a "punishment for their sins." There are moments when you wonder if the cameras should have been switched off -- it's hoped that the family had final sign-off as to what footage is used. But there's no denying that this is a powerful documentary that by the end, if you're not already, will have you reaching for the tissues and giving your children a huge hug.
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.