A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Perseverance is a key theme. Compassion and empathy is shown by some. However, the film depicts how difficult it can be to get your life back on track when you fall into the system. This leads to some self-centered and illegal behavior.
Positive Role Models
Bunny has relentless optimism. This is despite being separated from her kids and experiencing homeless. She has shown great strength and resilience over the years to bounce back after a horrific past. She is flawed though. She exploits people's goodwill to get what she wants, and subsequently puts them in difficult situations. She has violent tendencies and she steals. But whenever doing so it's always with good intentions; she just wants to be with her kids. Those working in social services have the best intentions, but are constrained by bureaucratic rules.
The film has a female lead in Bunny, with key female supporting roles. Characters working in respectable positions belong to women of color. A family of Indigenous Australians offer support and shelter to Bunny when nobody else is helping. Bunny's youngest daughter -- who together with her brother are in foster care -- is disabled.
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Violence & Scariness
When witnessing sexual abuse on a minor, a character attacks the perpetrator. Domestic abuse and a subsequent manslaughter is revealed but not shown. A character holds a blade to another's neck as a hostage situation plays out. A character is shot and the wound is shown being treated. Someone smashes up a car and urinates in it.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A character is seen in the bath, but there is no nudity.
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Many uses of the word "f--k" as well as "s--t." Also a few uses of "bitch" and a character refers to another as a "pervert."
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Products & Purchases
A large part of the narrative is about someone trying to make money. However, this is for the purpose of finding permanent accommodation and being able to get their kids out of foster care, rather than greed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character is seen smoking a cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Justice of Bunny King is a New Zealand drama with strong language and adult themes around foster care, homelessness, and domestic and sexual abuse. Bunny (Essie Davis) is a desperate mother, who has fallen victim to a system that makes it incredibly hard to maintain a relationship with her two kids who are in foster care. Bunny is herself a victim of domestic abuse. Yet despite all this, she shows incredible resilience and remains optimistic. She makes bad choices and breaks the law, but does so with good intentions, even if it hurts people along the way. Bunny's teenage niece, Tonyah (Thomasin McKenzie), is a victim of sexual abuse. There is a scene where this abuse is taking place, but it is not shown in graphic detail. A character is shot and someone holds a knife to another's throat. There is strong language too, with many uses of the words "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." The movie has a strong female presence, from the lead to supporting characters. Bunny's daughter daughter is disabled and there are a number of people of color in the narrative -- though they are not at its center. 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 New Zealand drama is a thought-provoking portrait of a mother who will stop at nothing to be reunited with her children. The Justice of Bunny King is an intimate character study and so relies heavily on a strong performance to bring the role and story to life. Davis is a sure bet on that front, as an actor with such a wonderful sense of vulnerability about her, and yet also a chaotic edge. There is something ever so-slightly erratic and unpredictable about Bunny, which means you can't take your eyes off her.
Director Gaysorn Thavat certainly plays with the moral compass of the audience. Bunny is a law-breaker, she hurts people, emotionally and physically, yet with good intentions. Wanting just one thing: to see her two kids. Through this -- and Davis' wonderful performance -- you do find yourself rooting for her, and empathizing with her plight, somehow even justifying the unjustifiable. Some films work as a mere means of escapist entertainment, but sometimes they make us think and question ourselves. The Justice of Bunny King definitely falls into the second category.
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.