Woodshock

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Woodshock Movie Poster Image
Drug-filled experimental film goes nowhere.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

The movie assumes that viewers support legalized marijuana, but the bigger issue it raises is whether assisted suicide -- in the form of smoking poisoned pot -- is OK for people in pain or who have a terminal illness. One character suffers depression after one such assisted suicide, but it's not clear whether she's feeling remorse or is just generally depressed.

Positive role models & representations

The main character is a woman, but she shows very few signs of strength or independence. She seems to bury her feelings in chemical-infused pot smoking.

Violence

Characters die. Burning with hot iron. A person is beaten to death with an iron. Blood spatters. Characters rage and yell. Pricking finger with knife.

Sex

Main character shown in sheer nightgowns and underwear. Innuendo.

Language

Uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

The movie involves a legal marijuana dispensary, as well as people smoking pot as a form of suicide to ease suffering and terminal illness. Heavy pot smoking throughout. Also lots of drinking/drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Woodshock is a very arty independent movie about legalized pot and assisted suicide. It spends a lot of time trying to look pretty and be cool, but it doesn't really go anywhere and doesn't have much to say about its challenging themes. Pot smoking is constant (as you might expect), and characters work at a pot dispensary. Characters drink to excess in several scenes, too. There's a brutal scene of violence, with bludgeoning and blood spatters; characters also die, rage, yell, and get burned with a hot iron. Language isn't constant but includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "c--k." The main female character (Kirsten Dunst) is shown in various sheer nightgowns and underwear, though there's no nudity.

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What's the story?

In WOODSHOCK, Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) works at a marijuana dispensary. Her mother is terminally ill, so Theresa treats a little pot with a mysterious chemical that kills her mother and ends her suffering. But that choice sends Theresa into a drifting, depressed state, and she starts smoking pot infused with chemicals. Each time she does it, her mental state becomes dreamier and more hallucinatory as she wanders around the house performing various tasks (or believing she's performing various tasks). Meanwhile, at the dispensary, Theresa had gotten mixed up and gave the deadly chemical pot to the wrong customer. Her boss, Keith (Pilou Asbaek), becomes distraught, and her boyfriend (Joe Cole) doesn't know what to do. Can Theresa pull herself out of her dark place?

Is it any good?

Written and directed by fashion industry sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, this experimental, drug-hazed movie looks interesting, but whatever it's up to, it doesn't quite seem to achieve it. Woodshock is shot like a TV commercial or an artsy music video; its camera drifts around, rolling in and out of focus, catching different light patterns through windows or trees, with random jump cuts to show the passing of unmarked time. Dunst clearly put some hard emotional work into her role -- somewhat similar to Melancholia -- and she captures the feel of deep depression and reflection, but the movie simply leaves her hanging.

Her relationships with the men in the movie seem almost random, meaningless. Eventually, it feels as if the movie has left viewers behind, with no indication as to where it has actually gone. In truth, it's just plotted enough that it fails as an experimental film, and it's just experimental enough to fail as a narrative film. It's too tentative to make a definitive move in either direction. But the movie's cool music -- which undoubtedly came from deep within a hipster's record collection -- is at least worth a listen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Woodshock handles drug use. What's the movie's attitude toward/opinion of it? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How does the movie use violence? How did those scenes/moments make you feel? How did they add to or detract from the movie?

  • What does the movie have to say about the subject of assisted suicide? Why is this a challenging issue?

  • What is an "art house" film? Does this movie qualify as one? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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