Screen It! is not attempting to rate the movie as good or bad but to give parents the tools to decide whether it's appropriate for their kids.

This movie has been screened for objectional content in 15 areas. Click for a detailed look.

The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is rated as heavy due to at least 8 uses of the "f" word, while other profanities and a few colorful phrases also occur. Some of that language/profanity is sexually related, as there's talk about masturbation and sex. Several instances of boys masturbating do occur (the actual act isn't seen, but arm/hand movement is), several sexual encounters are heard and/or implied (with some nudity) and some nonsexual nudity (female bare breasts/butts) also occurs. The father of the family has various bad and/or disrespectful attitudes, as do some others toward the family that lives in utter poverty and occasional filth. Some brief violence occurs in the form of people hitting or smacking others, the mother and father smoke throughout much of the film, and both the father and later the son come home drunk (while others also drink). There's also a great deal of tense family scenes (many of Frank's siblings die at young ages), some material regarding body fluids (vomiting and chamber pots, etc.) and a few bits of imitative behavior. While it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, should you still be concerned about it's appropriateness for them, yourself, or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.

Drama: As his poor Irish Catholic family endures poverty, hunger and a deadbeat but amiable father, a Depression-era boy comes of age while coping with his first communion and confession, his growing interest in girls, and his desire for a better life.
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or the source novel of the same name, it's highly unlikely that most kids will be interested in this seemingly bleak drama.
For sexual content and some language.
  • EMILY WATSON plays the often pregnant but caring mother who's overwhelmed by her family's poverty, the deaths of several of her children, and her generally useless husband. She briefly uses strong profanity, smokes and does whatever necessary to support her family (including sleeping with a relative).
  • ROBERT CARLYLE plays that husband who usually spends the family's money or other earnings on booze, often disappears for long periods of time without explanation or word of his whereabouts, can't keep a steady job, and eventually disappears for good. He also briefly uses strong profanity and smokes.
  • JOE BREEN plays Frank at a young age, a boy who tries to make sense of his life, sneaks into a movie, briefly uses profanity and is intrigued by sexual matters, but it otherwise a good kid.
  • CIARAN OWENS plays Frank during his middle childhood years, a boy who's even more interested in sexual matters, but gets hooked on Shakespeare after being sick for several months. He also gets a job to help support the family.
  • MICHAEL LEGGE plays Frank as a young adult who continues trying to help his family, masturbates and then goes to confession to ease his guilt, and gets drunk in one scene and is mean to his mother.
  • RONNIE MASTERSON plays the boys' grandmother who doesn't like Malachy and blames their faults and troubles on him and anything to do with Protestantism.
  • PAULINE McLYNN plays the boys' aunt who's standoffish for much of the film, but eventually comes around and helps Frank.

    Click on a category for specific details or scroll through the page for a broader overview.

    Disrespectful/Bad Attitude


    Alcohol/Drugs | Profanity | Smoking Tense Family Scenes | Topics To Talk About | Guns/Weapons | Imitative Behavior | Music (Scary/Tense) | Jump Scenes | Music (Inappropriate) Blood/Gore | Frightening/Tense Scenes | Violence

  • Malachy drinks with other men.
  • Malachy comes out of a bar rather drunk and vomits on the street.
  • People drink in a pub, including Malachy who rests his mug on his son's coffin.
  • Malachy returns home quite drunk.
  • People drink in a pub and we see that Malachy is drunk.
  • Frank comments that if Jesus wanted a pint (of beer), he'd just wave his hand over a glass and it would appear.
  • People drink in a pub.
  • Frank's uncle Pat is drunk.
  • People have drinks in a pub, including Frank who later is quite drunk.
  • Frank brings a bottle of sherry for his newest employer.
  • The adults in Frank's extended family drink beer and his aunt tells Angela that they should have some sherry.
  • BLOOD/GORE: Moderate
  • We see Angela vomit.
  • We see Frank's younger brother urinating on a bus tire when he can no longer hold it in anymore, but we don't see the urine stream.
  • A relative talks about someone having so much gas in their body that they "shoved a pipe up his ass" (not seen).
  • Malachy comes out of a bar rather drunk and vomits on the street.
  • The family moves to a new home where they discover that their outdoor lavatory is actually for the entire street and the family reacts to the smell coming from it.
  • We hear Malachy and his boys urinating in a bucket in the hallway (their toilet) and see them standing there, but don't see the urine streams. That night, Malachy returns home drunk and knocks over that partially full bucket.
  • We see Frank vomit after his first communion.
  • We hear a doctor fart and Frank (in voice over and regarding being sick), comments on this, saying that he knew he was going to be okay since no doctor would fart in the presence of someone who was going to die.
  • Frank's eyes are extremely bloodshot and swollen (from bad conjunctivitis) after too much coal dust has gotten into them.
  • We see a severed sheep's head at a butcher shop. Later, we see it in a pot after it's been boiled for Christmas dinner and Malachy then pops out one of its eyes and eats it.
  • We hear a man urinating into a pot.
  • We see Frank vomit after emptying a relative's chamber pot onto the street.
  • Frank vomits again.
  • Frank has a bit of blood from his nose after a relative briefly attacked him.
  • Frank has some blood from his nose after crashing his bike.
  • We see a dead woman, but beyond being dead (with her eyes and mouth open), there's no blood or gore.
  • Malachy has both for continually spending the family's money on booze, never being able to hold down a job and support the family, often disappearing for days on end and finally for leaving for England supposedly to get a job and only reappearing once after that and then only for less than a day.
  • Angela's family has both toward Malachy (due to the way he treats Angela, can't keep a job, etc.).
  • Others are disrespectful to the family, including religious leaders who either mock them or slam doors in their faces in different scenes.
  • People drink in a pub, including Malachy who rests his mug on his son's coffin (and does so until Frank demands that he remove it).
  • Kids at school laugh at Frank and Malachy Jr. about their poorly repaired shoes.
  • Frank's brother acts like he's having some sort of convulsive attack so that Frank can sneak into a movie theater when all of the attention is on his brother.
  • A boy charges Frank and others money to watch his sisters undress.
  • Frank hears his mother tells his father to get off of her, that she's worn out. Malachy then tells her that a good Catholic woman would perform her wifely duties, but she then states that she'll have no more children.
  • Angela and her boys tear out and break down a wall in their rental home to use as firewood (they're later evicted because of this).
  • A family relative with whom Angela and her boys move in with after being evicted, treats them badly, orders them around, and forces Angela to have sex with him in exchange for staying at his place.
  • Frank jokes that he and his friends found an old and mostly deaf priest to whom they'd go to confess their sins because they knew he couldn't hear them.
  • Frank returns home drunk (after his first time drinking), confronts his mother, calls her a slut (for sleeping with their cousin) and slaps her.
  • After finding his latest employer (an older woman) dead, Frank steals her money (so that he can travel to America).
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and a few under "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or disturbing to some viewers.
  • Handguns: Seen in an old James Cagney film.
  • Phrases: "Wanking" (masturbating), "Bum" (buttocks), "Shut up," "Fiddler's fart," "Piss," "Piss holes," "Tart" (woman), "Bollocks" and "Bitch."
  • Frank's brother acts like he's having some sort of convulsive attack so that Frank can sneak into a movie theater when all of the attention is on his brother.
  • Frank and a buddy skip school.
  • Angela and her boys tear out and break down a wall in their rental home to use as firewood (they're later evicted because of this).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • PROFANITY: Heavy
  • At least 8 "f words, 8 "s" words, 5 slang terms for/using male genitals ("d*ck," "pr*ck," "mickey," "wanger" and "dong"), 2 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 14 asses (some pronounced as "arse"), several uses of "wanking," 1 use of bollocks, and 6 uses of "Jesus," 2 each of "God" and "Mother of God" and 1 use each of "For Jesus' Sakes," "Oh Jesus," "Oh my God" and "Sweet Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Some of the profanity comes from Frank at a young age.
  • SEX/NUDITY: Heavy
  • We see male full frontal and rear nudity of Frank's younger sibling (a toddler) as he's bathed.
  • Frank recounts what his friend told him about girls - that they have things called "t*tties" up top and what's down below is "entirely a different matter." He then goes on to say that girls don't have a "mickey" (penis) down there. Frank then recounts this in a confessional where he states that his friend tell him that girls know about sex "because they've already done it with their brothers."
  • We briefly see the bare butt of one of Frank's childhood friends (who's around ten years old or so).
  • A kid charges Frank and others money to watch his sisters undress in their bedroom. The boy tells them "no wanking" (masturbating) as we see the young women in various stages of undress/nudity (including bare breasts and one's bare butt) as well as Frank apparently masturbating (we see his arm rhythmically moving as he watches them).
  • Frank hears his mother tells his father to get off of her, that she's worn out. Malachy then tells her that a good Catholic woman would perform her wifely duties, but she then states that she'll have no more children.
  • After a priest gives a speech about self-gratification, we see Frank and other boys lined up behind a wall, all of them masturbating (we can see the movement of their arms). The camera angle then switches to behind the wall and we now see the boys' bare butts as they continue to masturbate as a group (but not toward or directed at any of the others).
  • Frank goes to confess his sexual sins in a confessional and is surprised that his old and mostly deaf priest has been replaced by one that can hear. As Frank eventually confesses, the priest asks if it was by himself, with another, or with some class of beast. In voice over narration, Frank then jokingly comments that the priest must have been from the country and was thus opening new worlds to him.
  • Frank hears sexual sounds coming from the floor above him between his mother and a family relative who's letting them stay with him in exchange for him getting to have sex with Angela.
  • After Frank mentions (in voice over narration) that he heard that girls with consumption were often willing to have sex (referring to a girl he's met with that condition), he delivers a telegram to her house. Since it's cold and wet outside, she tells him to remove his clothes so that they can dry by the fire. When she returns into the room, she and we see that he's stripped completely naked and we/she see his bare butt. She then comments that he might be scrawny, but then adds that some part of is body is "fine." She then walks over to him and then appears to lead him by his penis over to a sofa (the camera angle doesn't show everything). This young woman then kisses him and takes off her top (we see her in her bra) and the two then roll off the sofa to the floor (where they presumably have sex although we don't see anything else).
  • However, we do see them sometime later lying together in front of a fire with her in her slip and him behind her.
  • SMOKINGHeavy
  • Angela smokes more than ten times, Malachy smokes more than five, and several minor/background character smoke in several scenes.
  • The continued poverty and domestic strife facing the family, along with Malachy's alcoholism and unemployment, puts a great deal of strain on the family, particularly regarding the parents' marriage.
  • The mother and father grieve after their newborn dies.
  • Back in Ireland, two more of the family's children die and we see a funeral scene.
  • The family waits for Malachy to return home for Christmas from England. He finally does on Christmas Eve, but stays less than twenty-four hours and doesn't return again.
  • Frank's grandmother dies.
  • How anyone could have survived a childhood like the one portrayed here (poverty, death, an alcoholic and often absent father, etc.) and made it out okay.
  • How/why Frank's siblings died at such a young age (consumption and/or other diseases).
  • Why Frank's eyes were so bloodshot and swollen after delivering coal (from conjunctivitis from the dust getting into them).
  • Frank's reaction to Catholicism and its many principles and practices.
  • VIOLENCE: Mild
  • Frank and another boy get into a schoolyard fight (with pushing and some punches being thrown).
  • A schoolmaster repeatedly strikes a boy's hand as punishment.
  • Some people shoot guns at each other in an old James Cagney film.
  • Angela smacks Frank on the back of the head.
  • Frank pushes another kid to the floor during a dancing lesson.
  • A mother whacks her son for charging Frank and others to watch his nude sisters.
  • After Frank slaps his younger brother on the head, his aunt does the same back to him.
  • A cousin throws food at Angela, Frank tries to intervene and the adult cousin grabs Frank and smashes him against a wall.
  • Frank, who's drunk and upset with his mother, slaps her.
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