In The Bookshop, Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is an independent and free-thinking war widow who decides to open a small bookshop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. Florence’s humble dream sparks a small social revolution, pitting her progressive, liberal values against the village’s conservative and traditional values, embodied by Mrs Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson). With the unlikely friendship of the private Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) and the outspoken book-hating Christine (Honor Kneafsey), Florence must defend her right to provide the town with books and the freedom to read them.
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 spouse; sexism toward women
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.
The Bookshop has some violence and references to violence. For example:
- Violet smashes a porcelain figurine in anger.
- Edmund jokingly suggests he could put a bullet through the brain of the female opponent.
- It’s implied that Christine sets fire to the bookshop.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Bookshop has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example, Florence screams very loudly at a man to leave her bookshop.
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, The Bookshop has some scenes that could scare or disturb children aged 5-8 years. For example:
- It’s implied that Florence’s husband died in the war.
- Edmund experiences shortness of breath following an argument with Violet. He’s subsequently shown dead on the ground after suffering a heart attack.
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, The Bookshop has some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged 8-13 years. For example, it’s implied that Christine sets fire to the bookshop, but there’s no indication that anyone is hurt, or that she’s punished.
There is nothing of concern for children in this age group.
The Bookshop has some sexual references. For example:
- A young female character implies that her older sister spends her days kissing a boy in secret.
- Edmund slowly and longingly kisses Florence’s hand.
- A scene shows some vaguely suggestive cartoon postcards.
- An older male customer looks at an illustrated female exercise book.
- The book Lolita is discussed and sold, but there’s little reference to its content.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Bookshop shows some use of substances. For example:
- A central female character smokes cigarettes.
- Adults drink wine and dessert liqueurs at a party. No-one seems to be drunk.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Nescafe coffee.
The Bookshop has some coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Bookshop is a wistful adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name. Although it’s beautifully made and has genuinely dramatic performances, the movie lacks the coherent and subtle political commentary of the novel. Some adults and children aged over 13 years might find the movie entertaining and interesting for the way it blends Isabel Coixet’s reflective European direction with English melancholic humour. Ultimately, however, the movie doesn’t have the depth that viewers might expect if they’ve read the novel.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- a positive attitude to change
- a love of books and reading
- the importance of female role models.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- sexist attitudes towards women and how these restrict women’s independence