A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Exploitative traffickers in immigrants, a murderer eludes punishment.
Violence & Scariness
A murder, beatings, harsh conditions for refugees and illegal immigrants.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Prostitute's actions are not visible, but explicitly referenced.
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Products & Purchases
Discussions of U.S. products (Clint Eastwood, NBA, Folgers coffee, etc.)
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink, smoke, do drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie tells a harrowing story of a young Ameriasian's journey from Saigon to Texas. Along the way, he sees his mother sexually harassed by her employer, is involved in an accidental death, is battered, starving, afraid, and loses his young half-brother to illness aboard a ship. His closest friend during the journey is a prostitute, who does her work off screen, but it's obvious what she does. The trip also involves some violence, as the overseer on the ship abuses his "cargo," and the captain shoots a man. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Provocative and lyrical, THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY tells the difficult story of a young man's search for his identity, through his long-lost parents. The film shows Binh's experience in lyrical, subtle, often extraordinary imagery (recalling the work of the film's producer, Terrence Malick). In one early scene, as Binh scrubs the foyer floor of his mother's employer, Stuart Dryburgh's camera shoots at a sharp angle, looking across the room from his scrub brush up to his mother, standing to dust a table. The son of her employer walks between them, cutting across the space as he approaches Mai, initially appearing only as feet -- Binh's head-down view, then fully in frame by the time the son casually and cruelly grabs at Mai's bottom.
Binh's friendship with a prostitute, Ling (Bai Ling), presents some predictable conflicts. He yearns for her, wants to save her, and also feels shame for her. His meeting with his father is full of conflict, as well. Binh may or may not forgive his father, but the more daunting effect is visible in their long pauses and Steve's brief, pained fingering of his son's "ugly" face. They're both enduring the continuing costs of war -- the Vietnam war in particular. Literally blind, Steve embodies U.S. lapses and longings, political and moral missteps, and the guilt that drives and undermines all efforts to do right.
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.