A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Looks at how boys/men and girls/women experience a double standard when it comes to sex, as well as how people's circle of friends and family influence their relationships.
Positive Role Models
Harper is an intelligent, forthright feminist who demonstrates sexual agency. Of Indian descent and adopted into a White American family, she's comfortable talking about how it feels to have left her birth country and culture behind.
Violence & Scariness
A teen girl is pressured but dodges an unwanted sexual encounter. "Slut shaming" bullying.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen couple kiss frequently, which leads to sex (not depicted). A teen girl initiates a sexual relationship -- and insists on her partner using a condom. Frequent talk about sex. Virginity (and loss thereof) is part of the plot.
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Strong language includes: "bulls--t," "d--k," "s--t," and several uses of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Likable lead characters and other minors smoke pot regularly with no consequences. Conversation about drinking beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Young Hearts is a light, romantic teen drama about first love, "the first time," and the gender politics that often accompany sex and dating. It's all about navigating the teen dating world, and adults may be painfully reminded of how uncomfortable these years can be. High school freshman Harper (Anjini Taneja Azhar) is smart, forthright, and politically engaged, and she's the one who initiates sexual activity with Tilly (Quinn Liebling) -- and insists on using a condom. While kissing fills frame after frame, no sex occurs on camera. But there's a lot of talk about it: between Harper and Tilly, between their friends and, of course, among their frenemies. The high school characters smoke lots of pot and use strong language (including "d--k" and "f--k"), activities that are made to seem as commonplace as playing video games. Harper, who is of Indian descent, talks about being adopted by White American parents and the disconnect she feels with her heritage. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Authentically awkward, this straightforward high school romance is about the challenge of keeping a relationship protected from divisive outside influences. Harper and Tilly's issues crop up once their inner circle becomes aware that they're in a relationship: Everyone has a snide opinion. Progressive, well-read, and self-confident, Harper has a sex-positive approach to her relationship with Tilly. She is, therefore, blindsided when she becomes the subject of rumors and lies. The fact that this all takes place in Portland serves as a reminder that, even in liberal enclaves, teens are in a constant tug of war between learning social boundaries and trying to gain status. They'll cut their friends down if it means gaining popularity points.
For adults, Young Hearts offers real insight into teen town. Sibling writer-directors Sarah and Zachary Ray Sherman tap into how real kids talk, interact, smoke, shame, and pressure each other. Liebling, just 17, delivers every look and line with a naturalness. He's the real standout here, with a grounded star power. A film about 14- and 15-year-olds having sex and getting high may shock some parents, but teens are more likely to shrug it off -- as in, "tell me something I don't know."
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.