Tulip Fever

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Tulip Fever Movie Poster Image
Clumsy telling of silly, confusing story has lots of sex.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

In theory, the movie has a lesson about economic bubbles (the tulip market kept inflating until it could no longer do so, leaving many people bankrupt), but the movie sidelines this theme, focusing instead on affairs, lying, and mistrust.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters mostly scheme against each other, cooking up elaborate plans to get money and run away, avoiding responsibility, etc.


A dead body is fished out of the water. Bar fight, with punching. Yelling, arguing.


Several graphic, vivid sex scenes. Characters cheat on each other with more than one partner. Naked breasts and bottoms. Nude paintings/drawings. A woman touches a man underneath the sheets. Many scenes of kissing, groping, undressing, etc. Some innuendo/sex talk.


Uses of "bitch" and "whore" in one scene. Uses of "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A minor character gets very drunk. Brief smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tulip Fever is a disappointing period tale based on a novel by Deborah Moggach. It's sort of about the "tulip boom" of the 17th century, but that story is sidelined in favor of a not-very-interesting bedroom drama. Sexual content is very mature, with several graphic sex scenes. There's also nudity (breasts and bottoms), as well as nude drawings and paintings, groping, kissing, touching, and some innuendo and sex talk. Language includes a few uses of "damn," "bitch," and "whore." A dead body is fished out of the water, and there's a bar fight, as well as some shouting and arguing. One character gets very drunk in one scene, and there's some smoking. Alicia Vikander and Dane DeHaan co-star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjulianna92 October 3, 2019

A complete let-down

The story started semi-promising but after the second act things turned sour and the plot failed to entertain. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, it tells the story... Continue reading
Adult Written bymartineque May 7, 2021

Boring and graphic nudity

It was very boring and had a poor storyline. Totally unbelievable and only interesting because of the costumes - when they had them on that is! Graphic sex scen... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byIssasnack June 4, 2019

Good Story, But Lots of Sex

I really liked this movie and I would recommend it to people who love historical films, but I will say that there is a lot of sex and some nudity. On a side not... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bytoby woby May 21, 2018

Tulip Fever has very awkward storytelling, beautiful cinematography, and lots of sex

This film was... meh. Nothing great nor bad about it. Plus, it is kinda confusing at times. It did have some excessive sex, although I used a website called Vid... Continue reading

What's the story?

In TULIP FEVER, orphan Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is sent to become the wife of widower Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz). Their efforts to have a child prove fruitless, but Cornelis commissions a painting of them, hiring artist Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to do it. Jan falls in love with Sophia, and they begin an affair. Meanwhile, Cornelis and Sophia's housekeeper, Maria (Holliday Grainger), is secretly seeing the fishmonger, Willem (Jack O'Connell), who's started investing in the ballooning tulip market in order to earn enough money to marry Maria. When Willem is shipped off to the navy and Maria turns up pregnant, Sophia cooks up a plan. But it involves Jan attempting to turn Willem's abandoned tulips into a pile of cash.

Is it any good?

This tone-deaf costume drama takes a preposterous story and tells it clumsily, with strange choices all around and most of the plot turns either confusing or silly. Based on Deborah Moggach's novel and shelved for well over a year, Tulip Fever is supposedly about the fascinating, real-life tulip craze of the 17th century, when people paid fortunes for bulbs. But the movie's focus, unfortunately, ends up more on the characters and their crazy, sitcom-level schemes, which require characters to be either stupid or naïve.

Whenever any of these characters charge off into the next part of the story, they seem totally oblivious to what's about to happen -- when it's painfully obvious to the rest of us. For example, Zach Galifianakis co-stars as a kind of simple, drunken sidekick to DeHaan's character, and when he's charged with an important errand, the results are glumly inevitable. Yet the movie tries to generate both humor and suspense, badly, from the scene. Director Justin Chadwick, whose work on previous films The Other Boleyn Girl and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was equally clueless, never seems to know where to put his camera or how to move it; the resulting movie is a mess of moods and tones that fails in its logic, suspense, humor, and everything else.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Tulip Fever's sexual content. How is it presented? Is it gratuitous? Does it illustrate love or jealousy? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Do you consider any of the characters role models? Why or why not?

  • What did you learn from the movie about the tulip craze of the 17th century? In what way does it resemble the "bubble" economy of more recent times?

  • What's the appeal of period/historical movies? How does this one compare to others you've seen?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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