Parents' Guide to

The Sea of Trees

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Drama about life-changing journey; suicide, mature themes.

Movie PG-13 2016 110 minutes
The Sea of Trees Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

This is a strange, beautifully-made fantasy that's engaging while you watch, but holes in the plot nag at the film's end. McConaughey and Watts make a failing marriage believable, but what neither they nor the script provide is any indication that they once loved each other before tragedy struck. For the ending of The Sea of Treesto make sense, concrete evidence of their love would have been necessary and, aside from Arthur's regret, there really isn't any.

To director Gus Van Sant's credit, this doesn't detract from the absorbing drama he creates as Arthur comes to Japan's suicide forest, then suddenly yearns to live despite his life's challenges. Unlike teen-targeted stories about suicide, this one celebrates the human will to survive and to overcome pain in favor of getting on with life, as difficult as that task might be.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: August 26, 2016
  • On DVD or streaming: November 1, 2016
  • Cast: Matthew McConaughey , Naomi Watts , Ken Watanabe
  • Director: Gus Van Sant
  • Inclusion Information: Gay directors, Asian actors
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 110 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: for mature thematic material, some disturbing images and brief strong language
  • Last updated: December 2, 2022

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