Parents' Guide to


By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Disturbing Dutch drama about bullying has violence.

Movie NR 2013 95 minutes
Spijt! Poster Image

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This Dutch film illustrates the irrefutable observation attributed to Edmund Burke's that "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." This was true during the Nazi era, during the American Civil Rights era, and it endures today in every classroom around the world where weak kids are targeted by mean ones. Young David represents how unreliable even the best people are when it comes to standing up to evil. Sensitive performances and a canny script beautifully communicate David's conflict. He knows bullying is wrong -- he even seems to feel Jochem's pain himself. But the movie reminds us that if someone as empathetic and seemingly principled as David does nothing to stand up to the bullies, what hope is there for anyone to step in and stop the cycle?

The movie stops at the brink of pressing for an answer to that important question: Why do people turn away in the face of evil? But it does wonder how adults can turn away from what is right in front of them. Spijt! also makes the effort to look at bullies as human beings and what circumstances might have fostered their cruelty. David does find the courage to speak out eventually, and even takes some of the blame, but only when nothing is at stake. The filmmakers slyly comment on the source of human misery when a class studies Sartre's famed play, No Exit. The playwright observes, "Hell is other people."

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