image for Evelyn

Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 12 (Lang. Themes.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Evelyn
  • a review of Evelyn completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 May 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 This movie is not recommended for children under the age of 8, due to the level of violence and scariness.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance is recommended for children in this age bracket.
Children over the age of 13 Should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance, depending on parentsu2019 assessment of content.

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: Evelyn
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, Low level coarse language
Length: 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Based on a true story, Evelyn is about a nine year old child named Evelyn Doyle, living in Dublin in the 1950s. Evelyn’s Dad, Desmond, is deserted by his wife for another man and left to bring up his three children, Evelyn and two younger boys Dermot and Maurice.

Desmond loves his children dearly but the Children’s Act of 1941 states that a man is not able to care for his children if there is no mother and therefore children must be placed in state care. Abetted by the Catholic Church, the two boys are placed in an orphanage and Evelyn is placed in a convent. Desmond, an unemployed painter and decorator, turns to hard drinking which doesn’t help his cause. The courts state that Desmond needs to find employment and improve his means to care for his children. Bernadette, a university student working part time as a barmaid at the local pub, encourages him to stop drinking and look for work.

With the help of his father, a fiddle player, Desmond sings in the pub to earn money and finds some work. When he again appeals to the courts they state that the mother’s consent is required to release the children from care. Bernadette enlists the help of her solicitor brother Michael to help Desmond. American barrister Nicholas Barron, also agrees to help free of charge. They appeal again to the courts but the case is again rejected and the children must stay in care until they reach the age of 16 and with no right of appeal. They then turn to Tom Connelly, a retired barrister, who also agrees to help. They decide to take the case to the Supreme Court to challenge the Irish Constitution and set a new precedent in Irish law.

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 is some violence in this movie:

  • Desmond and his wife argue loudly
  • the nuns physically drag Evelyn away screaming from her Grandfather
  • Desmond throws a punch at a priest for “making his children orphans” but the priest foils the blow and punches him back, knocking Desmond out.
  • Sister Bridget repeatedly hits a child with a strap for not repeating the catechism correctly.
  • Evelyn speaks out against Sister Bridget for hitting the child whereupon she flies into a rage, drags Evelyn out of the class and hits her violently across the face several times for daring to question her authority.
  • when Desmond hears about the incident he goes to the convent and grabs Sister Bridget by the neck and threatens her with dire consequences should she ever lay hands on Evelyn again.
  • Desmond tries to break into the convent one night and falls from the wall having drunk too much.
  • Desmond climbs over a barbed wire fence, gets caught on the barbs and is chased by aggressive German Shepherd dogs.


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.

Children in this age group would be scared by the above violent scenes. They could also be disturbed by the following:

  • Evelyn watching her Mother leave in a car with another man.
  • the mother abandoning her children.
  • the children being placed in orphanages.
  • Desmond’s Dad dies from a heart attack in the pub.


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.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

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.

Younger children in this age group could also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

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 would probably not be disturbed by this movie, depending on their own experiences in life and their sensitivity to the themes in the movie.

Product placement

The following products were displayed or used in this movie:

  • Bird’s Custard Powder
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes


Sexual references

There is only one sexual reference, when the barman states that his wife is frigid.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is a lot of drinking and smoking in this movie. Desmond is a heavy drinker and smoker but Bernadette helps him to stop drinking so much. Young girls are also shown smoking.

Coarse language

There is a lot of coarse language in this movie, with frequent use of the following words:

  • bastard
  • bloody
  • Jesus

There is occasional use of:

  • bitch
  • arse
  • for God’s sake


In a nutshell

The take home message is that with faith, hope and determination all things are possible.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • love and care
  • forgiveness
  • endurance through adversity
  • faith
  • kindness
  • honesty

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • turning to drink as a means to solve problems
  • taking revenge