The Land of Steady Habits

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Land of Steady Habits Movie Poster Image
Powerful, mature family drama has drugs, language, sex.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Promotes "growing up" regardless of age. Consequences of bad behavior are both earned and instructive. By revealing families in crisis, film advocates for strengthening of family bonds, honest communication, forgiveness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

An array of troubled people must come to terms with their frailties. Early steps at healing through honesty, self-assessment, open communication are taken. Women and men are shown as equally flawed, equally capable. One African American character.


One disturbing scene in which a character physically attacks another, wounding him.


Multiple scenes of attempted sexual activity in bed that fail; no nudity. Conversations about sexual liaisons and infidelity. Scene in a strip club that shows scantily clad women, pole dancing, implied lap dance. A brief glance at a sexual drawing in a book. 


Frequent swearing and obscenities include "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "t-ts," "goddamn," "a--hole," "Jesus Christ," "hell," "d--k."


Bed, Bath & Beyond, DeCicco Market, Keds are featured. Visuals of Champagne de Sauveterre, Corona Beer, Miller Lite, Bayou Rum, Nutchies, Diamond almonds, and assorted stores (e.g., Gap, Tiffany).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage kids drink, smoke marijuana and PCP. Overdoses occur. Alcoholic beverages are consumed (sometimes to excess) in social situations: parties, at home with friends and family. Cigarettes and cigar smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Land of Steady Habits is a mature drama about families in trouble. Centered on one man's midlife crisis, the movie also takes an in-depth look at the important people in his rather narrow world. Each of them (including a teen and a young man in his 20s) is complex and facing a critical moment in life. Drugs and alcohol play a crucial part in the story. Underage kids drink and use marijuana and PCP -- some to excess with painful consequences. Adults drink and get drunk, and one uses drugs as well. A number of sexual encounters occur; couples are seen in bed attempting to have intercourse (no nudity). A scene takes place in a strip club in which scantily clad women dance, serve drinks, and offer lap dances. There are conversations about sex and about infidelity. Language is strong throughout, including "bastard," "d--k," "piss," "t-ts," and "Jesus Christ," and multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Writer-director Nicole Holofcener based her screenplay on the novel of the same name by Ted Thompson. 

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What's the story?

Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn) has taken drastic steps to change his life in THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS. In searching for "meaning" and "passion," Anders has left a successful, high-income career as a financial trader and his long marriage to Helene (Edie Falco). He's on tenuous footing with Preston (Thomas Mann), his 20-something son, an alumnus of rehab who hasn't yet found his way. Six months after Anders disrupted his life, things aren't progressing as he anticipated. His ex-wife is involved in a new relationship, which bothers him more than he thought it would. His finances are strained because of his "generosity" to Helene. He's persona non grata in the community. And, most surprising to him, Anders' sex life fizzles. A chance encounter with Charlie (Charlie Tahan), the teen son of old friends, finds Anders smoking dope and, inadvertently, PCP. The incident results in a series of escalating bad calls on Anders' part. His judgment fails him. Complications, not entirely under his control, follow. Recovery for everyone is at risk. 

Is it any good?

Sensational performances, a strong script, insightful direction, and an original take on the vulnerability of an affluent community help create a transformative tale of relationships and parenting. Nicole Holofcener, who in her earlier well-received films (Enough Said, Lovely and Amazing) focused on complex women, this time turns the screen over to the wonderful Ben Mendelsohn. Even often unlikable, unforgivable, and smug, Mendelsohn's Anders still manages to elicit a strong rooting interest. The supporting actors are rich and rooted in reality, bringing both nuance and pathos to roles that might have been conventional in lesser hands. Charlie Tahan, as Charlie, deserves special mention for a performance that's honest and heartbreaking. The Land of Steady Habits is highly recommended for mature folks only.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the portrayal of teen drug use in The Land of Steady Habits. Are the scenes that include drugs made to look cool or seductive? Are there consequences for such behavior? Why is it important for films to show such consequences to audiences?

  • What about adults consuming alcohol in this film? Are those scenes made to look cool? Are there consequences? How much do you think Anders' use of both alcohol and drugs impacted his behavior? 

  • This movie takes place in an upscale Connecticut community. Connecticut is sometimes referred to as "The Land of Steady Habits." Find out what the term means and how it relates to this story.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

Themes & Topics

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