Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Spijt! Movie Poster Image
Disturbing Dutch drama about bullying has violence.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 95 minutes

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

Positive Messages

It takes courage to speak up against injustice. Lots of seemingly good people aren't brave enough to do the right thing. As long as good people do nothing, bullying will continue.


Positive Role Models & Representations

High school students taunt, humiliate, and physically abuse an overweight classmate. A teacher sees the abuse and suggests the victim doesn't have a sense of humor. He abuses the boy himself when the boy rides his bike too slowly. David feels terrible when bullies abuse a kid too retiring to stand up for himself. He looks disapprovingly on the behavior but does nothing to make them stop.


In the school locker room, kids take the clothes of an ostracized student and throw them into trees so he can't go out. They call him "fatty" and sabotage him in class in front of teachers. Three bullies dump their leftovers into the boy's plate, then push his face into the food. They beat him and bloody his nose and face. They puncture his bicycle tire and force him to work another kid's paper route. They force a large amount of alcohol down his throat. He writes in his diary about committing suicide. Parents should be aware that the movie comes to a violent end.


A boy tells a girl he loves her. He tries to kiss her but she pulls away. A boy and girl kiss.  


"F--k," "s--t," "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult smokes. Kids force alcohol down the throat of a boy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spijt! is a 2013 Dutch drama about high school bullying that's disturbing and realistic. Students single out a sensitive boy who doesn't look like everyone else and doesn't fit in socially and torture him while other students, school officials, and teachers do nothing. Suicide is a subject, too, and tragedy results, which may make viewing this movie a useful occasion for discussing our duty to those too weak to stand up for themselves. There is strong language ("f--k" and "s--t") and name-calling ("fatty") and unlike stories where the bullying takes place online, here the violence is up close and in the real world. Teens beat a boy and force alcohol down his throat. Parents should be aware that the movie comes to a violent end.

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What's the story?

SPIJT! raises the question of whether good people have a responsibility to step in when they see wrongdoing. David (Robin Boissevain) is just such a person, a bright and decent high school student who visibly winces when he sees Jochem (Stefan Collier), an innocent classmate, abused. Bullies steal Stefan's clothes. They push his face into his food. They beat him up. They puncture his bicycle tires. They call him "fatty." Teachers laugh at Jochem, too, David knows better but he seems paralyzed by fear of being targeted by the bullies himself, being seen as a snitch, or perceived as someone who feels superior to his peers because he's done the right thing. If he speaks up, the others, who are probably equally appalled by the bullying, might hate him for making them feel guiltier about their own silence and cowardice. After it's too late to help Jochem, David invites his journalist mother to write about bullying at his school in the hope that others will learn from the tragedy.

Is it any good?

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."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether decent people have an obligation to step in when they witness bad deeds, cruelty, and evil. How is this question presented in Spijt!?

  • Do you think grownup intervention can stop bullying, or do you think kids need to sort it out themselves? Why?

  • What should you do if you or someone you know is being bullied?

  • What do you think makes some teens think suicide is their only options? Where do you think kids in despair should turn for help?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to stand up to bullies

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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