A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A boy tells a girl he loves her. He tries to kiss her but she pulls away. A boy and girl kiss.
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"F--k," "s--t," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult smokes. Kids force alcohol down the throat of a boy.
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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. 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 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."
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.