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Ten Thousand Saints
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ten Thousand Saints is an edgy drama about two teens in a tough situation, set in 1980s New York. They smoke pot and take plenty of other drugs (including cocaine and inhalants); their parents are absent, preoccupied, or just oblivious; and the kids spend much of their time hanging out on the streets or with homeless punk rockers squatting in abandoned buildings. There's lots of swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k"), some sexual references (including an unplanned pregnancy), and a lot of questionable decisions. It's best for older teens, especially if parents are there to discuss it with them.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the aftermath of a tragic accident, Jude (Asa Butterfield) moves from a small Vermont town to live with his father (Ethan Hawke) in New York. He quickly becomes embroiled in the 1980s punk scene and gets involved with his dad's girlfriend's teenage daughter, Eliza (Hailee Steinfeld), who's also reeling from the tragedy and is dealing with a complicated problem of her own. Together, they try to figure out the meaning of "family" when neither of them has particularly reliable parents, while also dabbling in drugs, hardcore music, and Hare Krishna ceremonies.
Is it any good?
This definitely isn't a typical teen coming-of-age movie, though its protagonists do come of age. It's also not a romcom, though the characters do fall for each other and have sex. It's more of a family drama, though not a single character in the film seems to have much of an idea of what it really means to be a family. The teens are mostly raising themselves, and the parents have much more important things to do than actually be parents, especially Hawke as Jude's weed-growing dad, who gives his son free rein in New York and likes to smoke pot with the kid. It makes mid-1980s New York look pretty rough.
But give the film time to do its thing, and all these dysfunctional families/characters start to grow on you, even Hawke, who turns out to give the most sensible advice of anyone in the film. Butterfield and Steinfeld are outstanding (angsty, yes, but excellent, too) and Emile Hirsch, as a punk-rock member of their extended family who's trying to figure out who he really is, also gives a strong performance. TEN THOUSAND SAINTS takes some unexpected twists, but it's an interesting -- and sometimes fun -- ride nonetheless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about coming-of-age movies. How is Ten Thousand Saints typical of the genre, and how is it different?
What do you think about Jude's relationship with his father, Les? Is Les a good dad? What about the other parents shown in the film? Would you call any of the characters role models?
How realistic is the drug use here? Is it glamorized? What are the consequences, if any?
How does the movie handle the topics of teen sex and unplanned pregnancy?
- In theaters: August 14, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2015
- Cast: Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch, Emily Mortimer
- Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
- Studio: Screen Media
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: drug use including teens, and language including sexual references
Themes & Topics
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