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The Place

Movie review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
The Place Movie Poster Image
Intriguing look at human morality has dark themes.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 105 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Explores the topic of morality in pursuit of a purposefully provocative question: "How far would you go to get what you want?"

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters have selfish desires and are willing to commit -- or at least consider committing -- crimes or immoral acts to get what they want, including rape, robbery, killing a child, and bombing a populated area.

Violence

Violent acts are described, such as beatings, a plot to kill a child, child abduction, and rape, but nothing is shown. 

Sex

Talk of having sex to get pregnant.

Language

Occasional words like "f--k," "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Reference to illicit drugs such as LSD.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Place is an Italian-language (with English subtitles) film adaptation of the web-only TV series The Booth at the End. The storyline and characters are all almost identical to those of the TV series; the only difference is that here the story plays out in a single sitting. All of the action takes place through characters' conversations with a mysterious man who sits at a table in a café. Though violent acts are described -- such as beatings, a plot to kill a child, child abduction, and rape -- viewers don't see any of it. Expect some language and reference to drug use. The Place introduces murky moral issues that might be difficult or complex for kids to process.

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What's the story?

THE PLACE is set in a generic café where a mysterious unnamed man (Valerio Mastandrea) sits as "clients" come in to describe their desperate desires. One wants to save his dying son, another wants to be prettier, a third asks to restore his eyesight, and another wants to re-find God. After consulting his notebook, the man promises each that his or her wish will be fulfilled upon completion of a task. But many of the tasks are violent -- or at least morally challenging. As clients struggle with whether or not they should carry out their assigned task, they revisit the man to update him on their progress -- and, slowly, their stories are woven together.

Is it any good?

This thought-provoking story about the limits of human morality raises questions about how far people will go to get what they want. There's just one set (the café), and the whole plot unfolds through dialogue, which is a storytelling technique that works well here but may bore those who like to see more action. If you can accept this technique, you'll easily get caught up in each character's story. Be prepared for some surprises around who's prepared to complete their task. How the stories end up connecting can feel a bit contrived, but it does make for a more dramatic and intriguing storyline.

There are lots of discussion possibilities here, relating to both The Place's comments on society and to the internal story structure (e.g., who is the mysterious man, and how does he have all this power to make things happen in other people's lives -- or does he?).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Place's message when it comes to cause and effect. What does being moral mean? Is it ever OK to do something bad to someone if it results in a positive outcome for you? Why should we consider the consequences of our actions?

  • What or who do you think the mysterious man represents? Is he forcing people to do bad things, or is he merely a facilitator?

  • What role does the waitress play? How is she different than the people who come to see the mysterious man? How does she help him? 

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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