Belle and Sebastian: Friends for life

image for Belle and Sebastian: Friends for life

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Not recommended under 11, parental guidance recommended 11-13 due to violence and disturbing scenes. In French with English subtitles.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Belle and Sebastian: Friends for life
  • a review of Belle and Sebastian: Friends for life completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 July 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes; in French with English subtitles
Children 11-13 Parental guidance due to violence and disturbing scenes; in French with English subtitles
Viewers aged 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Belle and Sebastian: Friends for life
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and violence
Length: 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The third and final instalment in the French series Belle and Sebastian, sees 12-year old Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) struggling with a decision by his father Pierre (Thierry Neuvic) and adoptive aunt turned step-mother Angélina (Margaux Chatelier) to move to Canada from their small village in the French Alps. 

When a dark and menacing man called Joseph (Clovis Cornillac) arrives claiming ‘rightful’ ownership over Sebastian’s Pyrenean Mountain dog Belle and her new puppies, Sebastian and his adoptive grandfather César (Tchéky Karyo) are forced to do everything in their power to protect them.  Sebastian takes it upon himself to hide Belle and her puppies in the mountains; but when Joseph kidnaps them, Sebastian and César (with the help of some friends) must outwit Joseph and save Belle. 


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a parent; animal abuse; family bonds; family separation

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There iare scary scenes of violence in this movie including:

  • Several occasions in which guns are used to threaten people and dogs
  • A man is punched in the mouth by another man
  • A man threatens a dog with a large knife
  • Joseph unsuccessfully attempts to strike César with his car
  • Sebastian and others are threatened with credible violence from Joseph

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The central antagonist, Joseph, is frightening/threatening in appearance and behaviour
  • Jump scare – Joseph bursts into a mausoleum trying to find Sebastian’s hiding place (this scene is quite frightening)

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Sebastian’s mother dies during childbirth, and discussions of her death occur throughout the film
  • Numerous discussions of Sebastian being forced to leave his grandfather to live in Canada – Sebastian finds this distressing
  • Verbal reference to animal abuse toward the dog Belle
  • The dogs are threatened with violence by  Joseph on numerous occasions
  • Belle and Joseph fall into a frozen lake – Belle survives, but the man does not

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may be scared by the threats of violence made against Sebastian and others.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in the film

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A young boy asks his father whether he has slept with his new bride already, to which the father confirms that he has
  • A young boy asks whether his father is making babies during his honeymoon

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A male and female character kiss intimately on a number of occasions

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Cigarettes are smoked on numerous occasions
  • Alcohol is consumed on numerous occasions – Adults are seen behaving as if intoxicated at a wedding reception and a bar
  • Two young children try a sip of alcohol (they dislike the taste)

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “pain in the ass” ; “pig-head”

In a nutshell

Belle and Sebastian: Friends for life is the third instalment in the Belle and Sebastian story, based on the 1965 French novel by Cécile Aubry.  Like the two previous films, it presents an exciting adventure, with stunning cinematography and wonderful performances by human and canine cast alike.  The English subtitles and frequent frightening scenes will limit the film’s appeal to, and suitability for, under 13s, but teenagers and adults are likely to enjoy the sweet, well-paced final chapter in this series, which provides a European charm and precision.

The main messages from this movie are the importance of standing up to bullies and of fighting against inequality.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the dangers and consequences of running away from home
  • attitudes toward animals and their care
  • participating properly at school and not deliberately antagonising teachers
  • behaviours related to gambling