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Not recommended under 13, Parental guidance to 15 (Themes, Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Lou
  • a review of Lou completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 June 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes and coarse language
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and coarse language

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: Lou
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language
Length: 80 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Eleven-year-old Lou (Lily Bell-Tindley) lives with her mother Rhia (Emily Barclay) and two younger sisters in rural sugarcane country. Lou’s father walked out on them 10 months previously and for this Lou blames her mother. Lou also resents the fact that she is often left to care for her sisters while her mother works. Life for Lou takes a turn for the worse when Rhia brings home Lou’s estranged grandfather Doyle (John Hurt), who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Lou now is often left to care for Doyle as well, a responsibility for which she is much too young and which causes Lou to feel further resentment towards her mother. Doyle, in his unpredictable state, confuses Lou for his former wife Annie and tries to win her affection. Unused to such attention, Lou finds herself drawn to her grandfather and goes along with him as a game. The two become close friends but when Rhia finds out what’s happening she realises she needs to send Doyle away, now much to Lou’s anguish.


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.

Aging and Alzheimer’s disease; dysfunctional families; single parenting. poverty.

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 including:

  • Doyle finds Lou in his bedroom and accuses her of being a thief. He gets very angry and kicks her.
  • Rhia slaps Lou across the face
  • Doyle almost strangles Lou’s friend Blake (Jonathan Segat), seeing him as a rival.

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 five including the following:

  • Doyle runs around the house in his underwear, angry because he doesn’t want a shower.
  • Doyle spits out all his food at the table.
  • Doyle talks about how he’d like to strangle the man who took his wife and demonstrates throttling someone – he gets very worked up about it.
  • Doyle has a nightmare and cries out in the night – Rhia and Lou have to physically restrain him – he thinks he’s drowning.

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 above-mentioned scenes.

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 also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and by a scene where the children are scared by debt collectors knocking on the door and have to hide to pretend there is no-one home.

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 may be disturbed by some of the situations faced by the characters in this film, including

  • Rhia struggles as a 27 year old single parent to cope with the family finances and cries about her desperate situation.
  • Lou hears Rhia and Cosmo having a fight during the night and Cosmo storms out of the house. Lou finds Rhia in tears and tries to comfort her but Rhia pushes her away, saying he’s leaving because of her.
  • Doyle thinks Lou is his former wife Annie and he proposes to her with a ring, telling her he loves her.
  • Debt collectors remove furniture from the house.
  • Doyle and Lou run away together.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Rosella Tomato Sauce
  • Golden Circle

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The implied relationship between Rhia and her new boyfriend Cosmo, who stays overnight.
  • Cosmo leaves $50 for the girls in the morning before he leaves. Rhia sees it as payment for sex.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Lou watches her mother and Cosmo kissing.

Use of substances

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

  • Drinking at a barbeque
  • Blake pours alcohol into his and Lou’s juice at a party.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Jesus
  • Crap
  • Shit
  • Piss off
  • Bitch
  • Bastard
  • Get fucked
  • Jesus Christ

In a nutshell

Lou is a complex drama played on many different levels. Its themes of family breakdown, aging and coming of age tell a sad but touching, story which is aimed at an older audience.

The main message from this movie is that everyone needs to be loved and respected.

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

  • the difficult situation Rhia finds herself in when her partner leaves her to bring up their children alone.
  • the problems of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease