I highly recommend Winter’s Bone–with its excellent messages about female strength and courage, as well as the damaging effects of illicit drugs–for older teens.
What’s with movie ratings? Apparently any mention of illicit drugs earns an R, but you can have just about any level of gratuitous sex, violence, language or gruesomeness and end up with a PG-13. And no level of sexualization of women and girls will push you out of a G-rating range, Geena Davis has found.
I recently watched the Oscar-winning Winter’s Bone. It’s a movie about a 17-year-old girl who must act to protect her family – two younger siblings and a withdrawn and depressed mother. The undercurrent is drugs. The movie features a strong female protagonist. She chops wood and teaches her younger siblings how to shoot squirrels and cook them for survival. To save her family, she does what she needs to do, and goes where she needs to go, even though it’s dangerous and she’s afraid.
As if that weren’t enough of a reason to recommend the movie for both boys and girls as an antidote to the sidelined and sexualized females in movies – it also delivers an excellent message about the damage drugs do to a community. She is offered drugs, which she rejects. And the look on her face tells us that she finds the offer repellent.
This movie should not be exempted from teen viewing due to its rating. There is no gratuitous violence, sex or language. A modest amount of violence and language is completely understated and appropriate to the context. There is no nudity, sexualization or sex. There’s just a young woman who goes on an important, difficult journey and succeeds. Awesome. Yes, it’s dark. Older teens – 15 plus – can handle it. It’s probably not for younger teens – primarily because I just don’t think the subject matter will interest them.
From Thompson on Hollywood at IndieWire:
“… where are reality-based female characters who aren’t self-loathing and desperate, hypersexualized or entirely devoid of femininity?”
Answer: Winter’s Bone. Trailer here