The Honorable Woman

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Honorable Woman Movie Poster Image
Intelligent British political spy drama is intense, violent.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 468 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Middle East politics, Israeli-Palestinian relations, terrorism, and related issues are major themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The line between heroes and villains is ambiguous. 

Violence

Bloody stabbings and shootings, hangings, child kidnappings, suicides, rape, and other violent acts. 

Sex

People shown in various stages of undress (no nudity); some sexual activity visible. 

Language

Curses such as "s--t" and "f--k." 

Consumerism

Range Rovers, Mercedes-Benz logos. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine, cocktails, cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Honorable Woman is a sophisticated British spy series that centers on Middle East politics. It contains lots of bloody violence, people in various stages of undress, sexual behavior, rape scenes, and cursing. Adults drink and smoke. Older teens who like political story-driven stories should be able to handle it, but it's not meant for young or sensitive viewers.

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What's the story?

THE HONORABLE WOMAN is a British drama starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Baroness Nessa Stein, a powerful Anglo-Israeli businesswoman, who along with her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan) heads a powerful foundation committed to peace in the Middle East. After witnessing their Israeli father's public murder at the hands of a pro-Palestinian sympathizer 29 years before, Nessa is committed to building wealth in the West Bank in hopes of reducing terrorism. But before she can launch the third phase of her plan to expand telecommunications into the West Bank, the climate of distrust, hostility, and brutality that surrounds her comes to a head, despite the efforts of her bodyguard Nathaniel Bloom (Tobias Menzies) and the outgoing head of the Middle East MI6 desk, Hugh Hayden-Hoyle (Stephen Rea). Despite her friend Alika Halibi's (Lubna Azabal) attempts to cope with the constant pressure, her own secrets are becoming harder to keep every day.

Is it any good?

This is an intelligent and intriguing story that combines a traditional espionage drama with familiar narratives about Middle Eastern politics, mostly offered from a British point of view. Adding to the story are a cast of complicated characters that add interesting elements to the plot. 

It's not action-packed, nor is it easy to follow, thanks to the sophisticated story lines. Despite being a work of fiction, the focus on contemporary politics also adds to its depth. But if you're a fan of these types of shows, you will find it outstanding. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Middle East. What is the history of this region of the world? Why is there so much conflict there? Is the portrayal of this region and the people from it by Western media accurate? Or does it perpetuate stereotypes?

  • What differentiates a high-quality series from something more mediocre? What factors do reviewers take into account when deciding whether they like a show or movie?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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