Still Here

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Still Here Movie Poster Image
Interesting character interactions in serious social drama.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Movie's final message is about how kindness could possibly bring us all together. Addresses racism, with many examples worth discussing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No characters here are perfect/ideal role models. Some show courage in face of absolute despair but also realistically succumb to anger, sadness. Some White characters are racists (ordering others to pin a crime on a Black suspect, using racist slurs, etc.); others appear clueless about White privilege. A reporter is a "White savior" character.

Violence

Verbal description of a young man sexually assaulting, hitting, kidnapping a young girl. Black characters are roughed up by police during questioning. One character punches another; bruise, cut lip. Character dies via suicide off-screen. Dead bodies half-shown. A woman describes a man being violent with her: "getting rough" and "going upside her head."

Sex

A couple dances and kisses passionately in a club. Married couple kisses. Minor sex-related talk.

Language

Extremely strong, constant language, with countless uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," the "N" word, "bitch," "ass," "damn," "hell," and "balls," plus "for Christ's sake."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking in clubs, bars. Whiskey, beer. Main character smokes cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Still Here is a drama about a kidnapped girl that addresses racism, the Black community's relationship with law enforcement, and other serious topics. There's a disturbing description of a young man sexually abusing, hitting, and kidnapping the missing girl, and a woman talks about being roughed up by a man. White cops assault Black suspects, and one man punches another, leaving a bruise and a cut lip. A character dies via suicide off-screen, and two dead bodies are partly shown. Language is extremely strong, with countless uses of "f--k," "s--t," and the "N" word. Characters drink (mostly whiskey and beer) in bars and clubs. A somewhat clueless newspaper reporter (whose character fits the "White savior" cliché) regularly smokes cigarettes. There's kissing, some of it pretty passionate, and sex-related talk. It's not exactly fully formed, but there's enough here to make for an interesting, discussion-worthy experience.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAndrew_S August 28, 2020

A Necessary Film To See

Still Here is a must see film.
Through an incredible performance from all cast members but specially from Maurice McRae (Michael Watson) the film reaches the d... Continue reading
Adult Written byLua F August 28, 2020

Wow! Powerful movie with sensitive topics

As protests continue to increase in the USA, this film comes in time to show a black world and open conversations in fight against systematic and institutional... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In STILL HERE, young Monique Watson has gone missing in New York. Her distraught father, Michael (Maurice McRae), does everything he can -- putting up flyers and doing his best to keep hoping -- but he knows that the police won't prioritize the situation because it involves a Black family. Star reporter Christian Baker (Johnny Whitworth) is assigned to cover the case, and he discovers that a cab driver suddenly disappeared the same day that Monique did. Christian's initial hunch turns out to be wrong, but it gets police detectives Spaulding (Jeremy Holm) and Evans (Danny Johnson) back on the job. Hoping to put things right, Christian keeps investigating, finally finding his first useful clue after speaking to Keysha (Zazie Beetz). But is it too late to save Monique?

Is it any good?

While some aspects of this movie feel off the mark, others are spot-on, and the finished product, while not a particularly good mystery, at least becomes a decent, earnest social drama. The feature directing debut by Vlad Feier, Still Here relies on multiple characters with varied success. Perhaps the most troubling is Christian Baker, a "White savior" character who's remarkably clueless when it comes to communicating with the movie's Black characters. Eventually he writes about "kindness," which is a positive message, but he himself doesn't seem to have expressed any. (Whitworth also seems to be channeling Kurt Russell, with his mane of hair and raspy, murmuring delivery.) Detective Spaulding, meanwhile, is a White man who's shown being a good father and having a comfortable relationship with his Black partner, Evans -- but Spaulding is horribly racist and violent when dealing with Black suspects. And the Watsons are portrayed as a loving family who are proud but not naive about the realities of their world.

Despite some wobbly camerawork and awkward montages, the story itself is competently told, though it loses suspense by not introducing all of the key characters early. (Beetz has only one scene, late in the film.) The acting is fine across the board. At its best, Still Here could perhaps stimulate worthwhile conversations with the serious, sincere way it delivers its message.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Still Here's violence. How much of it takes place off-screen? Would it have been more effective to see it? Or is hearing it described powerful enough? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How does the movie address racism? Which White characters are hateful, and which are ignorant? What's the difference? How do both types of characters affect those they interact with?

  • How does the movie portray the relationship between Black people and law enforcement? Do you think it's accurate?

  • Is smoking glamorized in the movie? Are there consequences for smoking in this story? Why does that matter?

Movie details

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For kids who love dramas

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