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The City of Lost Children Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    This remarkable movie is really one-of-a-kind. [15 Dec 1995]

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    At its best, the movie is coldly clever with a few brilliant warmer moments - as when someone drops an Alka Seltzer into the tank to soothe the Brain. [14 Dec 1995]

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    I am not one of you. But I have enough of you in me to pass along the word. Far out.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    For those who enjoy the offbeat, The City of Lost Children is worth taking the time and effort to find.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The City of Lost Children reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Bizarre, beautiful French sci-fi with creepy images, themes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this surreal French film about bad dreams is full of nightmare-inducing imagery include menacing cyborg-like men who have replaced their eyes with old camera lenses, creepy faces distorted by wide-angle lenses and CGI rapid aging, and an opening invasion by nasty Santa Clauses. Children are menaced, with kidnapping, violence, betrayal, and with death -- drowning and strangulation. There is brief showgirl nudity in a nightclub scene and scene of coy sexy talk. Violence includes bloody faces, an impaling, near-shootings and fatal explosions (still, mayhem is minor for an R-rated movie). Characters smoke and drink. Most versions of the film require reading of subtitles (and "bitch" comes up in translated dialogue). A childlke grown man and a precocious little girl are a "romantic" lead couple -- but there's no sexual contact between them.

  • Families can talk about the unusual style of the film. Was it off-putting or hard to follow? How does it compare to American movies you've seen?
  • Did the surreal style of the movie change your impression of the violence? Did it seem less realistic, or more creepy?
  • Talk about some of the themes in the movie -- the search for a soul, the need for human connection, resilience in the face of horror and loneliness.

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Surreal take on the Frankenstein theme, of artificial creatures turning on their creator in a commentary on humanity. The importance of human connection -- worth even major risks and sacrifices.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Miette is an exceptionally brave and resilient young heroine, while One is a Hercules-type muscleman good guy (although not terribly smart). Not every monstrosity is evil (such as "Uncle Irvin," the helpful brain), nor do good characters always act righteously. Fanciful setting seems to depict a society in which kids can rely on nobody but each other.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: One villain is bloodily impaled with a speargun. Characters turn homicidal and kill with their bare hands, and the little-girl heroine is shockingly beaten and nearly strangled. Flashback to a mad-science lab fight, with bloody faces and smashed test tubes. One character threatened with a shotgun. Explosions and fires non-explicitly kill people.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A distant view of topless showgirls as a panicked nightclub empties. A woman in a low-cut gown tried to seduce a drunken man.

  • language false2

    Language: "Bitch" in the subtitles.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The strongman One drinks himself insensible in a bar. He and other characters smoke cigarettes.