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Places in the Heart Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Inspiring, intense tale about hardship, bigotry, redemption.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Places in the Heart is set in Texas during The Great Depression and shows a community dealing with poverty, lack of hope, and racial prejudice. Important messages about family, compassion, and respect for individual differences are effectively delivered. Several dramatic sequences are suspenseful and scary (a shooting, a beating, a turbulent storm); other scenes dealing with the bigotry of the time are highly charged and unsettling (the "N" word is used). Though outcomes are inspirational and prove that human goodness and ingenuity are rewarded, there are sad moments (spoiler alert: a father is killed; a young African-American is lynched; a violent storm threatens a town). A sub-plot concerns an adulterous relationship (some kissing, embracing, no nudity). Characters smoke; wine is used in a religious ceremony.

  • Families can discuss the unique nature of Edna's "new" family. How does that reflect the variety of family structures in the United States today?
  • Use Edna's experience with the bank and Moze's encounters with the cotton merchant as examples of prejudices against both women and racial minorities. How much has changed since the events in this movie? Do you think we have further to go? .Why?
  • Did the film's ending have a major impact on you? What do you think the filmmaker's intention was? What did they want you to take away from this movie?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true4

    Educational value: Presents a textured look at The Great Depression using the story of one family and the surrounding community in Texas. Details racial prejudice as well as the hard-scrabble life.

  • message true4

    Messages: Affirms that families comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors; people are bound together for a "common good" with love and mutual respect. Values promoted are: teamwork, forgiveness, compassion, and ethical behavior.

  • rolemodels true5

    Role models: Edna, the heroine, is observed on a life-changing journey: from sheltered, loving wife and mother to a woman of great independence, strength, and resourcefulness, one who never abandons her loving nature and sense of humanity. In addition, several featured players (including a blind man) have transformative experiences. Racial prejudice is an integral story element; the central African-American character is multi-faceted and positively impacts the lives of many people.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A sheriff is shot and killed by a young African-American man; his body is seen in various scenes. The young man is shown hanging in revenge. Ku Klux Klansmen beat up a well-liked character. In a tense, suspenseful sequence a violent storm and tornado wreak havoc in a town; children and adults are threatened; a dead body is observed from a distance having been crushed during the disturbance.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Several scenes reveal that a couple is having an extramarital affair. Their romance is prominent subsidiary story; they're seen after sex, embracing, caressing. . A woman is shown in a bath; no nudity.

  • language false3

    Language: Occasional swearing: "hell," "son of a bitch." Multiple racial slurs, including the "N" word used repeatedly.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Coca-Cola.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Wine is consumed in a religious service. Set in the 1930s, smoking is seen throughout; a young boy smokes, but is caught and punished.