This movie is the third and final chapter in the French series Belle and Sebastian. When the movie begins, 12-year old Sebastian’s (Félix Bossuet) father, Pierre (Thierry Neuvic), and adoptive aunt now stepmother, Angélina (Margaux Chatelier), have decided to move with Sebastian to Canada from their small village in the French Alps. Sebastian is struggling with this decision.
When a dark and menacing man called Joseph (Clovis Cornillac) arrives claiming ownership of Sebastian’s Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Belle, and her new puppies, Sebastian and his adoptive grandfather César (Tchéky Karyo) must do everything in their power to protect the dogs. Sebastian takes it upon himself to hide Belle and her puppies in the mountains, but then Joseph kidnaps them. With the help of some friends, Sebastian and César must outwit Joseph and save Belle.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Death of a parent; animal abuse; family bonds; family separation
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life has some violence. For example:
- On several occasions, people use guns to threaten other people and dogs.
- A man punches another man in the mouth.
- A man threatens a dog with a large knife.
- Joseph unsuccessfully attempts to strike César with his car.
- Joseph threatens Sebastian and others with violence.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- Joseph is frightening and threatening in appearance and behaviour.
- Joseph bursts into a mausoleum when he’s trying to find Sebastian’s hiding place. This scene is quite frightening and creates a ‘jump scare’.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Sebastian’s mother dies during childbirth, and people discuss her death throughout the movie.
- There are many discussions of Sebastian being forced to leave his grandfather to live in Canada. Sebastian is distressed by this plan.
- A character talks about abusing the dog Belle.
- Joseph threatens the dogs with violence many times.
- Belle and Joseph fall into a frozen lake. Belle survives, but Joseph doesn’t.
Children in this age group might be scared by the threats of violence towards Sebastian and others.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life.
Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life has some sexual references. For example:
- A young boy asks his father whether he has slept with his new bride already. The father confirms that he has.
- A young boy asks whether his father is making babies during his honeymoon.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life shows some use of substances. For example:
- People smoke cigarettes many times.
- People drink alcohol on many occasions. Adults behave as if they’re drunk at a wedding reception and a bar.
- Two young children try a sip of alcohol – they dislike the taste.
Nudity and sexual activity
Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life shows some sexual activity. For example, a man and a woman kiss intimately several times.
None of concern.
Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life is the third instalment in the Belle and Sebastian story, based on the 1965 French novel by Cécile Aubry. Like the two previous movies in the series, it’s an exciting adventure with European charm, stunning cinematography and wonderful performances by both the human and canine cast.
The movie’s English subtitles and frequent frightening and disturbing scenes mean the movie has limited appeal for children aged under 11. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 11-13 years. But teenagers and adults are likely to enjoy the sweet, well-paced final chapter in this series.
The main messages from this movie are the importance of standing up to bullies and fighting against inequality.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- the dangers and consequences of running away from home
- attitudes toward animals and their care
- participation at school and cooperation with teachers
- gambling behaviour.