Woman confronts painful past; sex, violence, language.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stromboli is a Dutch drama about a troubled, alcoholic woman who has exploded her life. She heads for a beach vacation on a volcanic Italian island and is rescued by a retreat leader there who specializes in trauma. He and his group lead her through reenactments of childhood violence that she has been repressing all her life. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "bastard," "bitch," "damn," "hell," "whore," "ass," "crap," and "orgasm." Rape, suicide, and divorce are all subjects. Adults and teens drink to drunkenness. Someone snorts cocaine. Adults are seen having sex unclothed, but only a man's rear end is visible. The material is decidedly adult, but mature older teens may find something of interest. Mostly in English with Italian and Dutch subtitled in English.
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What's the Story?
Sara (Elise Schaap) arrives on the Italian volcanic island of STROMBOLI, clearly a troubled alcoholic. She flirts with a barista and shortly after they're seen behind the counter having clothed sex. Slowly, explanations for her current disastrous state emerge. Her marriage broke up, her teen daughter is furious because Sara drunkenly disrupted her birthday party. Flashbacks to a sexual attack hint at long-buried trauma, all of which surfaces when she's rescued by Jens (Christian Hillborg), the therapist and leader of a retreat on the island specializing in helping broken people. With no place left to go, Sara joins the group and reluctantly, then willingly, allows the pain and humanity of her fellow retreaters to touch her. She leaves with hope and new friends.
Is It Any Good?
The performances in Stromboli are beautiful and nuanced. The story, at times hard to watch for the intense emotionality, is filled with humor, camaraderie, and warmth among the damaged participants in the program. At one point, a character says she's never had an orgasm and, on cue, the island shakes with volcanic force, provoking a smile and evoking the metaphor for sexual climax: the earth moved. When the participants leave the island, they seem at least hopeful for the future, making this an advertisement for the value of therapy and introspection.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the difficulties families face when a member has a substance abuse or mental health issue.
How do you think role-playing helps people with emotional problems improve?
What do you think the movie wants us to think about how the retreat participants do in life after they leave the island?
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2023
- Cast: Elise Schaap, Christian Hillborg, Tim McInnerny
- Director: Michel van Erp
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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