A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Importance of communication and perseverance, especially when faced with tragedy, although these are lessons learned rather than presented from the start. The power of imagination. Jealously, turning to alcohol to deal with grief, and meanness are also displayed.
Positive Role Models
Roald Dahl, while loving toward his children, is also shown to be cruel and short-tempered, especially following a family tragedy. He withdraws from his family, finding solace in alcohol. He is also shown to be bitter and unsupportive of his wife. In contrast, Patricia refuses to ignore the tragedy; she is shown picking up the pieces, eventually returns to work, where she shows great determination to make the best of her opportunity. Despite their issues, the two do, at times, show a tenderness toward each other.
Violence & Scariness
(Spoiler alert) The death of a child -- from measles -- occurs early in the movie. She is at first bed-stricken at home, before being transferred to hospital in an ambulance. Doctors are then seen frantically rushing around; a hospital curtain is drawn around the child. The death is then told over the phone. A couple regularly argue, insult one another. A spouse begins hitting their partner when they refuse to get out of bed. A parent raises their voice toward their child, shakes the child violently. While writing a book, an imaginary child appears before the author. Reference to a car accident almost killing a young child. A fire almost breaks out in a kitchen, creating smoke and distress. Movie scene rehearsal; the script refers to a character acting "rough" with another.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing and affection shown between a married couple. Kiss while filming a scene in a movie. Reference to an affair. Character becomes pregnant. A character makes a bet with someone that they can't leave a gathering with a Hollywood star, not knowing that the two are in fact married. Reference to actors being "nice to look at, but not much else."
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Includes "s--t," "crappy," "bloody," "sod that," "shut up," "dammit," "hell," "bloody hell," "Christ," "arse," "goddamn," "screw you," and "bastard." A character calls "God" a "sod."
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Products & Purchases
Some sweet and chocolate brands are referenced and seen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Smoking throughout. Characters drink regularly, at home and at social gatherings. One character drinks excessively alone and while writing. They are seen drunk -- stumbling and behaving erratically. Reference to the alcohol consumption is made on more than one occasion.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that To Olivia is a British drama based on the difficult marriage between kids author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal, and contains family tragedy, drinking, and smoking. (Spoiler alert) Following the death of their seven-year-old daughter, Olivia -- from measles -- Dahl (Hugh Bonneville) and Neal's (Keeley Hawes) marriage suffers as they deal with their loss in different ways. Dahl begins to drink heavily -- often alone, while he tries to write his next book. The couple subsequently have heated arguments and insult one another. These arguments include language such as "s--t," "crappy," "bloody," "sod that," "shut up," "screw you," and "bastard." In one scene, Neal begins to hit Dahl when he refuses to get out of bed. Dahl himself raises his voice to one of his daughters and shakes her violently. As well as plenty of drinking, including Dahl being seen to be drunk on several occasions, characters smoke throughout. Though the movie is bleak in parts, it also teaches the importance of communication and perseverance when trying to overcome grief. Though younger viewers may enjoy spotting the references to some of Dahl's most loved books, the difficult subject matter may prove too tough a watch for some. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on the difficult marriage between kids author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal, and a terrible tragedy the couple suffered, this is a delicate look at the impact of grief. Central to the plot of To Olivia are (spoiler alert) the different ways that Dahl and Neal approach the loss of their oldest daughter, Olivia. Dahl shuts down, refusing to say his daughter's name, finding comfort in bottles of scotch that he drinks alone in his garden shed. Whereas Neal -- while partial to a drink herself -- conscious of the well-being of her remaining children, chastises her husband, before being offered a role in a new movie starring Paul Newman, causing further conflict between the couple.
Both Bonneville and Hawes are perfectly cast -- the former, in particular, passing more than a striking resemblance to the imposingly tall author. A difficult man, Dahl is a somewhat dislikable character, far removed from the man who brought kids such joy with the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the BFG. Yet while his shortcomings -- a temper, jealously, fondness for alcohol -- are all touched upon, they're never fully explored. The near fatal car accident of the couple's son (and subsequent rehabilitation) is mentioned only in passing, for example. It leaves the feeling that perhaps there was scope for a TV series, allowing more time to explore the two characters and what made them tick. But take this for what it is: a glimpse at a specific time in the couple's life, and a well-acted, moving portrayal of loss and grief.
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.