A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is partly about revenge, but it's also about accountability.
Positive Role Models
As the movie begins, we learn that Darlene has been using her experience to work with other families with missing children. But her later behavior shows that, deep down, she isn't exactly admirable. Characters are either victims or react with rage and violence, seeking revenge or death. A character jumps through many hoops to not have to admit to having done something terrible, but when they do admit it, it's cathartic.
Only three notable characters are shown on-screen; all are White. Two are women, and it's safe to say that they have agency and power: They're able to control the situation and make clear their position and rationale. By contrast, the lone male character is portrayed as weak and needy, ready to blame others for his actions and troubles.
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Violence & Scariness
Dialogue about a young girl being raped and her neck broken. ("She was screaming." "I heard that awful crack.") Gun use; a character is shot in the leg, with a bloody wound. Gun fired into wall. Woman hits man in head with glass picture frame, causing a bloody head wound. Man slams woman against wall, kicks her. Woman punches man in face, hurts her hand. Character hit in head with hockey stick tumbles down stairs. Hitting with other blunt objects. Man tries to choke woman. Man threatens a woman; she panics, hides, tries to escape. Woman throws hot tea at man's face; he yowls in pain, his skin turns bright pink. Woman scratches man's skin on top of burn wound. Character bound with zip ties. Violent dialogue about revenge, shooting someone in the head, "ripping him apart," etc. Reference to death by suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dialogue about one character kissing another. Man falsely describes a sexual encounter (it was actually rape -- see Violence & Scariness for more). Dialogue about an extramarital sexual encounter.
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Uses of "f--k," "s--t," "shut the f--k up," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "stupid," "dumb." "Jesus" as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
References to Snickers and Coke.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character is recovering from alcohol use disorder and has been sober for 19 years. She pours a glass of vodka but doesn't drink it. She regrets not being able to protect her daughter when she was drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Apology is a thriller about a woman (Anna Gunn) who's spent 20 years looking for her missing daughter and gets new information just before Christmas. It's a tough but emotionally resonant watch. Violence includes guns and shooting, bloody wounds, characters being hit with blunt objects, someone getting burned with hot tea, a woman being thrown against the wall and kicked, women threatened by a man, and more. There's also brutal dialogue about a rape/murder and a mention of death by suicide. Characters talk about kissing and sex, including an extramarital sexual encounter. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," and exclamatory use of "Jesus." The main character is recovering from alcohol use disorder and has been sober for 19 years; she regrets that she was unable to protect her daughter because she was drunk. She pours a glass of vodka but doesn't drink it. 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 drama/thriller, ironically adorned from top to bottom with cheerful holiday decorations, is a tough watch. But it does an admirable job of tapping into deep-seated emotions. The feature debut of director Alison Star Locke, The Apology takes on the daunting job of attempting to unpack feelings that have been gestating over a 20-year period. Gunn's Darlene has spent that time looking for her missing child, trying to keep a glimmer of hope alive. We learn about some of her coping methods, but when the truth comes out, Gunn succeeds wildly at conveying what Darlene must really be suffering and feeling.
Roache also has a difficult job, playing a man who's ultimately weak, prone to blaming others for his problems, and very needy. Yet he still imbues Jack with a sense of humanity; he's three-dimensional. The Apology goes into some very dark places, descending into violence and vengeance, which may betray the serious nature of the material. But, on the other hand, the passions are so powerful that only a sledgehammer ending could do them justice. Thank goodness for Garofalo, in her supporting role, bringing some lightness to the proceedings.
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.