What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this controversial independent drama has been discussed for more than a year as "the film where Dakota Fanning gets raped." Although the scene in question is far less graphic than the hype suggests, a heavy coming-of-age drama that deals with rape, racism, and family dysfunction isn't likely to appeal to teens (or, thankfully, Fanning's many even younger fans). In addition to the notorious rape scene, someone uses the "N" word against an African-American man, a woman is bitten by a rattlesnake, a man is struck by lightning, and a dog is shot. There's also some underage drinking and smoking and mild sexuality.
- Families can talk about why this film is considered controversial. Is it because a young girl is assaulted or because Dakota Fanning is assaulted? Why do you think Fanning chose to take a role like this? Do child stars "owe" their younger fans anything in terms of making family-friendly movies? Families can also discuss Lewellen's love for Elvis' music. Critics have said that the filmmaker used Elvis as a symbol for how art can help people transcend/escape their troubles. Is that the movie's message? What about Lewellen's behavior -- was it risky? And how is race dealt with in the film? Why is it important to keep the setting and time period in mind?