A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence and abuse are at the heart of this film, leading to few positive messages. One takeaway is that your life is for you to live, not for somebody else.
Positive Role Models
John is a hitman who has killed for his adopted father. He appears to have had enough of this life, however, and flees to a remote village as a means to escape. His brother, Michael -- who is also a violent man -- is sent to bring him home. Lea is a caring mother to Caleb. But she is in an abusive marriage with Aaron. Her father, Jacob -- who is a pastor -- also tries to control her. However, she finds the courage to stand up for herself and reclaim her life, albeit in a violent manner.
The cast -- made up of British and Italian actors -- is exclusively White. Part of the plot involves a strict religious community who repress women. One character states, "women make no decisions here," while another does eventually rebel. In a flashback, a single father adopts a second son, but the film then plays into stereotypes with the two brothers at war with each other.
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Violence & Scariness
The main character is a hitman. They are shown committing acts of violence including garrotting someone to death and shooting someone (off-screen). They also have physical fights including punches, headbutts, and using household objects to inflict injury. A character pulls a knife on another but doesn't use it. Someone is shot in the back of the head causing blood spatter. Scenes involving domestic abuse include someone being struck in the face, slammed against walls, thrown down stairs, and kicked on the floor (out of shot). A kid also gets thrown to the floor while trying to help. A character is thought to have drowned at sea -- the suggestion being that they may have been murdered. A character finds another sitting in a pool of blood with bloody handprints on the wall. A body is then carried into the woods. A dead seal is seen on some rocks. Reference to the death of parents. A house is set on fire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is the suggestion that two adults are attracted to one another but nothing overtly romantic happens between them. A character has intentions to marry someone, although they are uninterested.
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Language includes "f--k," "f---ing," "f----r," and "bulls--t." "Oh my God" used as an exclamation.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two characters are shown smoking on more than one occasion. In one scene, one is told to put out their cigarette. But in a later scene they share a cigarette. A character buys a bottle of spirits and is seen drinking it straight from the bottle. Reference to and depiction of someone becoming violent when they are drunk. Fleeting reference to drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hanging Sun is a crime drama based on a book by Jo Nesbø with violent scenes including domestic abuse. Set in an unspecified Nordic region -- during a period when the sun never sets -- John (Alessandro Borghi) is a hitman who flees to a remote village as a means to escape his criminal father (Peter Mullan). There he meets Lea (Jessica Brown Findlay) who is the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, Aaron (Sam Spruell). Lea is hit in the face, slammed against walls, and pushed down the stairs by Aaron. Her son, Caleb (Raphael Vicas) is also injured in one incident. John is also shown committing violence including strangling someone to death and fights involving punches and headbutts. He is also shown drinking spirits straight from the bottle, and both he and Lea smoke. The village itself is home to a strict religious community who repress the women among them. There is strong language throughout including variants of "f--k." There are a number of plot holes and unanswered questions that make the movie difficult to get onboard with. 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 Nordic crime drama is based on a book by popular Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. Yet despite the source material, The Hanging Sun is a dull affair that is as confusing as it is boring. All the elements are there: Set in a remote village where it's never night nor day; a hitman trying to escape his past; and an excessively-religious community that doesn't take too kindly to strangers. It also boasts an impressive cast with British actors Peter Mullan and Charles Dance among them. But even they can't save the film from the grips of boredom. There are also some bizarre directorial choices. None more so than the decision to give young Caleb a jarring posh English accent. Caleb explains it by saying it's his way of dealing with a non-existent stutter. Presumably this was an attempt to make the character interesting. Instead, and perhaps mercifully, it simply distracts you from the tedium of the disjointed plot.
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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.