The 9th Life of Louis Drax

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Poster Image
Strange, unsettling fantasy has dark tone, some violence.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 108 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's difficult to know what to make of this hodgepodge; some characters make poor choices and suffer the consequences, but others are innocent victims ... still suffer the consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real role models; a young boy is victimized, a doctor makes poor choices, and a woman is a sociopath.


Brief indications/visuals of a mother abusing her son. Reference to rape. Dead body. A young boy falls from a cliff; he goes into a coma. Seaweed-covered monster (it seems scary in some scenes and friendly in others). Boy talks about "digging a grave." Boy collects hamster droppings and mails them.


Kissing and a non-graphic sex scene. A 9-year-old boy draws a picture of naked breasts. He talks about adults "sexing" each other. A woman removes her top with her back to the camera; partial breast briefly visible.


A use of "f--king" and a use of "s--t." Also "you suck," "stupid," "oh my God," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters occasionally drink whiskey or other alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that even though The 9th Life of Louis Drax is about a 9-year-old boy, it's far from family-friendly. This fantasy has some strange, dark material, including images of child abuse and death, a reference to rape, and a young boy suffering a terrible fall (he goes into a coma afterward). There's also a seaweed-covered monster that's scary until its existence is explained. Expect some kissing and a non-graphic sex scene, although in another scene, a woman does remove her top, putting her breast partially in view. A boy also makes references to "sexing" and draws a picture of naked breasts. Language is infrequent but does include uses of "f--k" and "s--t." A secondary character is seen drinking whiskey.

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What's the story?

As THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX begins, 9-year-old Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth) has a near-fatal fall from a cliff that puts him in a coma. Louis' father, Peter (Aaron Paul), who has disappeared, may have been responsible. Louis' distraught mother, Natalie (Sarah Gadon), waits by his bed and consults with the handsome, married Dr. Pascal (Jamie Dornan). Before long, Natalie and the doctor begin to develop feelings for each other. In flashback, a psychologist, Dr. Perez (Oliver Platt), speaks to the unusual, accident-prone Louis, trying to figure out what makes him tick. Meanwhile, the unconscious Louis is living in his own dream world, speaking to a strange, seaweed-covered creature. Everything points to one thing: What really happened up there on the cliff?

Is it any good?

Sometimes it can be good to think outside the box, but this strange, unsettling mishmash of dark fantasy, disturbing behavior, and child psychology is ultimately more dismaying than refreshing. Written by actor Max Minghella (based on a novel by Liz Jensen) and directed by the usually horror-focused Alexandre Aja, The 9th Life of Louis Drax moves confidently, as if it seems to know where it's going. But as pieces come into place, the picture becomes less and less satisfying.

The warm scenes with the avuncular Platt as a child psychologist seem to point toward something wonderful, while the seaweed monster hints at something frighteningly fantastic. But the movie keeps centering back on the weird, illogical choices of the doctor and the equally unsettling behavior of Natalie, who becomes less of a doting mother and more of a femme fatale. Finally, the end result, which could have been a sigh, is more of a "huh?"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in The 9th Life of Louis Drax. Who are the victims? Are there consequences? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex portrayed in the movie? What is Louis' view of sex? Why do you think the married doctor is drawn to Natalie?

  • Why does Louis choose what he chooses in the end? What has he learned? Is there a message/take-away for viewers?

  • How does Louis deal with the things that have happened to him in his life? Does he deal with them directly? Does he use his imagination? Have you ever used your imagination to cope with problems?

Movie details

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