The Flood

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
The Flood Movie Poster Image
Tense, empathetic refugee drama; some peril and drinking.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 99 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Themes include empathy, courage, and a willingness to help others in the face of adversity. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wendy is a hardened asylum application clerk who learns to empathize with the people whose cases she processes. Haile is a refugee who crosses borders illegally but helps others along the way. At first, both seem stereotypical, but they prove far more complex, each dealing with their own issues.


A character is forced to dig their own grave at gunpoint. Torture scene in which a character is chained to a post and has their back lashed with a cane. Character is dragged out of a toilet by heavies. A refugee is verbally abused. Unwell character coughs up blood and dies. A character pulls a large knife on another but has it wrestled from them. Statistics are shown that detail the number of deaths suffered by asylum seekers.


Language is rare but includes "s--t" and "f--king."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A main character is an alcoholic who pours vodka into a water bottle to secretly drink at work. They also drink alone late at night. Cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Flood is a compassionate but intense British drama about an African refugee traveling through Europe to seek asylum in the U.K. Based on a collection of real-life stories, the movie doesn't shy from the hardships endured by people who cross borders illegally. It has many tense moments, as well as sporadic but not gory violence -- the threat of danger is more prominent than actual incidents. There's a torture scene in which a character is lashed on the back with a cane. One main character, Wendy (Game of Throne's Lena Headey), is a British immigration officer with a drinking problem -- she disguises it at work by pouring vodka into her water bottle. But she also shows empathy as she learns to process applications in a humane way, despite political pressure. Strong language is infrequent but includes "s--t" and "f--king."

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What's the story?

At the start of THE FLOOD, British immigration official Wendy (Lena Headey) is hailed as the best in her department due to her success at meeting the government's quota for applications processed. When she interviews Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah), a refugee from Eritrea, she sees parallels with her own estranged family. In a series of flashbacks, the true nature of Haile's journey plays out.

Is it any good?

Writer Helen Kingston and director Anthony Woodley have crafted a sympathetic drama that gives its two main characters believable, well-rounded stories. Wendy is given a reason for her hard-line approach and subsequent redemption and is portrayed with complexity by Headey. And Jeremiah plays Haile as a likeable character, as dictated by the clearly affectionate script. It's also a thrill to see two Game of Thrones stars on screen together -- Wendy's colleague Philip is played by fellow GoT cast member Iain Glen.

While the major story threads of The Flood tie up neatly, there are enough rough edges to keep the tension throughout. The film doesn't shy away from some harsh realities in order to highlight the dangers that asylum seekers face. Focusing on the lives of one government agent and one refugee, this movie is a small and intimate affair that sheds light on a big issue.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Haile's dangerous journey in The Flood. Why do thousands of people a year attempt it, even though it's both highly dangerous and illegal? 

  • Wendy and Haile can both be seen as stereotypical at first glance, but they have their own complex stories and issues. Discuss how first impressions can color our judgment of people. Is that a fair way to view others? How can we battle stereotypes?

  • Discuss Wendy's drinking. Why does she drink so much? What are the consequences of her drinking? Do they seem realistic?

  • How does Wendy show empathy? Why is it an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Character Strengths

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