Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Family movie night? There's an app for that

Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.

Parents' Guide to

The Benefactor

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Despite great cast, melodrama has little to say; drug use.

Movie NR 2016 92 minutes
The Benefactor Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Gere is a master at playing wealthy, entitled men, but his over-the-top portrayal crosses the line into cringe-worthy in this drama that initially shows promise but ultimately doesn't deliver. Franny is a compelling character, but he doesn't add up. Despite his aggressive alpha-male charm, he seems to have had only two friends (Olivia's parents) his entire adult life. He's got underlings, employees, and recipients of his largesse, but no friends? And when "Poodles" -- a nickname that's utterly as ridiculous and infantilizing as it sounds -- calls him, all of a sudden he's back in action, ready to swoop in and pay off Luke's debts, buy them Olivia's childhood home, and make Luke the heir apparent to the hospital, even though the proud young doctor is at once grateful for and uncomfortable with so much generosity.

Since Olivia/Poodles is in her third trimester, she's relegated to lounging around for most of the film, giving Fanning, a fine young actress, virtually nothing to do. So it's James, best known as love interest Four in the Divergent movies, who gets to play the nuance against Gere's bro-hugger. Franny fixates on Luke in an almost psychosexual way -- so much so that at one point he literally walks in as Luke's changing out of a tuxedo, and the shot shows Franny's face inches from Luke's boxers. But it's not that kind of favor Franny wants, it's another prescription for morphine. So instead of a story about a manipulative master of the universe with no friends but deep pockets and loads of charities, writer-director Andrew Renzi's drama devolves into just another addiction tale. As a character study, there needed to be more of a back story than Franny's guilt, and as an addiction story, it just isn't very interesting. At the very least it proved that James deserves more dramatic work.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate