A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Selflessness and compassion are key themes. Characters are caring and thoughtful. Assumptions are challenged. Loss, grief, and faith are explored.
Positive Role Models
On the whole, characters are upstanding with good intentions. They're all upper-class. C.S. Lewis becomes devoted and selfless. Joy is the only female character, but she's depicted as smart, strong, independent minded. Some of the male characters are patronizing.
Violence & Scariness
Character falls and breaks a leg. Spoiler alert: Character dies of cancer.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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"Balderdash" and "good Lord" are as strong as it gets.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink in moderation in a pub and at social events. A raucous celebration depicts some drunkenness; characters drink champagne from the bottle. An unseen character is referred to as an alcoholic. Characters smoke cigarettes and pipes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shadowlands is a highly regarded yet slow-moving period drama about the life of British author C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins), who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia books. A love story is at the heart of the movie, but the only depiction of anything sexual is two brief kissing scenes. Themes of love, faith, compassion, and loss are adult-centric, and not written with a young audience in mind. Spoiler alert: One character dies of cancer. Joy (Debra Winger) is the only female character, but she's established as being far more interesting than the men around her. Many scenes feature alcohol, although only one shows someone having too much. Characters smoke pipes and cigarettes (accurate for the era). "Balderdash" and "good Lord" are the strongest words used. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Understated, nuanced performances from Hopkins and Winger do justice to a script that subtly explores the feelings and emotions of the lead characters. Winger was nominated for Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Joy, while Hopkins' portrayal of Jack earned him a BAFTA for best actor. Richard Attenborough's direction is unfussy, leaving the actors to do their thing against picturesque backdrops of the English countryside.
The lack of action in Shadowlands -- very little happens beyond the lead characters talking in a variety of settings -- means that younger audiences may struggle to climb onboard. But for those who do, the performances are so engaging that it's impossible not to feel touched by the relationships depicted on screen.
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.