A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Perseverance, hope, and the human spirit are key themes in the movie. Compassion and empathy are also demonstrated, as people come together to form a sense of community and support. There are many different ways of dealing with grief. Disconnecting from our devices can help put us back in touch with ourselves and with nature.
Positive Role Models
Harold begins as relatively normal, unassuming man. But he shows a great sense of resilience and self-belief, to do the unthinkable; walking the length of England. He inspires others, yet he takes on his pilgrimage with little notice, leaving behind his wife, Maureen, showing little consideration for how she feels or how she must deal with his absence. Both Harold and Maureen are haunted by their past and they have guilt and regrets that consume them.
The main character, Harold, is an elderly British White man, whose grief over the death of his son (it's revealed he took his own life after struggles with addiction) is explored. During his walk across England, Harold meets people from all walks of life and different backgrounds. They all help and support Harold -- such as when Harold is given a bed for the night by a generous Eastern European immigrant -- the film promoting the idea that the U.K. is stronger for its multiculturalism. A Black neighbor shows kindness toward Harold's wife, Maureen, while Harold is away. The film is written and directed by women.
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Violence & Scariness
A character has terminal cancer, which is a key part to the narrative. There is one very disturbing image of a young person seen hanging after taking their own life. A character is seen with bloody feet after walking for a great period.
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Some use of "f--k" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
A couple of British high-street shops are referred to, such as WHSmith and The Body Shop.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several references to drug and alcohol addiction and the problems that can arise from such issues. A character takes their own life, partly as a result of addiction issues. Characters are seen drinking alcohol, and in one scene somebody drink-drives. A character is shown smoking a cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a British drama about grief, guilt, and hope, with references and depictions to suicide and addiction. Based on a novel, Harold (Jim Broadbent) decides to walk the length of England to see his terminally-ill friend, in the belief that she will not succumb to her cancer if he keeps walking. During his voyage, he proves inspiring to others, as they rally behind him, creating a sense of community along the way. Many of these strangers, who are from various different backgrounds, show kindness and compassion toward Harold. While Harold is a positive role model in some regard, showing a remarkable sense of resilience and self-belief, he is flawed. Not least in how he neglects the feelings of his wife, Maureen (Penelope Wilton), after taking to his pilgrimage on a whim and without consulting her. It's revealed that both Harold and Maureen are grieving the death of their son, who took his own life after struggles with drink and drugs. Their son is seen hanging in a flashback. Other characters are seen drinking alcohol and one smokes cigarettes. One man is seen drink-driving in another flashback sequence. Language is generally mild, but there is occasional use of "f--k" and "s--t." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While this quaint British drama is an easy, enjoyable watch, there is a sense that it could have been better than it is. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry just lacks a certain spark, in either the charming, semi-whimsical narrative, or in the more profound, poignant elements. Instead, it falls somewhere in between. The plot is fairly simplistic; a man decides to walk the length of England, believing as long as he does so, his terminally-ill friend will stay alive. To buff up the near two-hour runtime, this pilgrimage is filled with strange, dramatic sequences that offer inane and pointless sub-plots, that may well work in the original novel, but in a feature film just don't quite fly. Broadbent and Wilton both elevate the material at hand. Yet what's most surprising is that for a film that gets to show off some of England's most picturesque landscapes, the visual spectacle doesn't quite match up with the performances.
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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.
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