A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Many strong, clear themes, including the value of forgiveness (as opposed to vengeance), the importance of fathers and father figures in guiding children's moral center, and, especially, the importance of communication in terms of understanding. Also straightforward scenes about faith.
Positive Role Models
The pastor demonstrates forgiveness under the most challenging circumstances, when most others would prefer vengeance. He also makes another hard decision, sacrificing his own well-being and future to protect those of his son. He's overall interested not so much in bringing people to religion but in giving them hope and peace, understanding and kindness.
The main character is a well-rounded, complex, and admirable Black man. His son is also an interesting character. A mention is made about Black men getting in trouble with the law in Texas and the punishment being more severe than a White person would get. The sheriff is a strong woman.
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Violence & Scariness
Character brutally stabbed several times with a switchblade, blood spattering on window. Bloody knife. Dragging dead body, trying to get rid of evidence. Bloody door handle. Washing blood from hands. Cleaning blood from crime scene. Character angrily, tearfully punches table and walls. Bloody knuckles. Blood stain on wall. Pickup truck on fire. Death is discussed; a wife/mother has died. Violent description of a break-in that led to an accidental death, including gun violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A store clerk reads Playboy magazine; only the logo and the word "sex" are visible.
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"Get the hell out."
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Products & Purchases
Coca-Cola sign in convenience store.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character drinks whiskey at home, gets drunk, gets angry, and punches tables, walls. Teens briefly drink beer in a bar. (They leave before they can drink much.) Other characters drink socially.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What Remains is a drama about a pastor who forms a friendship with the man who caused his wife's death. It's sometimes painfully slow-moving, but it has clear, powerful messages about forgiveness, communication, and more. (It's also the final film of performer Anne Heche, who died after an accident in the summer of 2022.) Violence includes a brutal stabbing, multiple times, with blood spatter, plus scenes of cleaning the blood, dragging the body, and a bloody weapon. A character angrily punches walls and furniture, leaving his knuckles bloody and bruised. A truck is burned. There's dialogue about death and an accidental shooting. A minor character reads a copy of Playboy magazine; nothing is seen other than the logo and the word "sex." The only language is a use of "get the hell out." A character drinks whiskey and gets drunk at home, and teens briefly drink beer in a bar. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This drama is often painfully slow, and it sometimes suffers from budgetary restraints, but its message of forgiveness comes through clearly and without heavy-handedness. Even though it has a murder mystery woven into it, What Remains seems to have been downshifted into a lower gear, and little suspense is generated. More straightforward dramatic scenes -- such as a long montage of characters cleaning scrap wood from an abandoned property -- may leave viewers glazed over. But at the heart of the movie are some genuine human conundrums that are well worth pondering. The pastor's sermon about forgiveness is convincing, but behind the scenes, he's less than fully convinced. He's hurting, and, unfortunately, a natural human response is vengeance -- i.e., lashing out at the one who caused the hurt.
Samuel is all about vengeance, and writer-director Nathan Scoggins does a good job of establishing with a few economical scenes that the rest of this small Texas town is on his side; nobody wants Parker around. All of this makes the pastor's decision even harder -- harder still as Parker becomes less a force of evil and more a troubled human being. A curious scene in which Scoggins splits the screen into two halves depicts two scenarios: one in which the pastor has a hard discussion with Samuel, and one in which they ignore one another. The movie never returns to the former scenario and only follows the latter one, which is a strange and bold choice. In that, What Remains subtly and compellingly suggests that, while humans have fierce feelings and reactions, that understanding begins with conversation -- and forgiveness comes from understanding.
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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.