Bookshop, The

image for Bookshop, The

Short takes

Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 14 (lack of interest and scenes that may disturb or frighten very young children)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bookshop, The
  • a review of Bookshop, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 May 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children aged under 10 Not suitable due primarily to lack of interest and scenes that may disturb or frighten very young children.
Children aged 10–14 Parental guidance recommended due to lack of interest.
Children aged 15 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: Bookshop, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and infrequent coarse language
Length: 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The independent and free-thinking war-widow Mrs Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), makes a decision to open a small bookshop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. She soon discovers that her humble dream has become a small social-revolution, pitting progressive liberal values (Florence and her choice of novels) against conservative and traditional values (embodied in the lady of the town, Mrs Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson)).  With the unlikely friendship of the private Mr Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) and the outspoken book-hating Christine (Honor Kneafsey) Florence must defend her right (and responsibility) to provide the town with books and the freedom to read them.


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 spouse; sexism toward women

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 or reference to violence in this movie including:

  • Violet smashes a porcelain figurine in anger
  • Edmund jokingly suggests he could put a bullet through the brain of the female antagonist
  • It is implied that Christine sets fire to the bookshop

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:

  • Florence screams very loudly at a man to leave her bookshop

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:

  • It is implied that Florence’s husband died in the war
  • Edmund experiences shortness of breath following an argument with Violet, and is subsequently shown lying dead on the ground (having suffered a heart attack)

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.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • It is implied that Christine set fire to the bookshop, but there was no indication given that anyone was hurt, or that she was punished

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.

There is nothing of concern for this age group.

Product placement

  • Nescafe coffee

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A young female character implies that her older sister spends her days kissing a boy in secret
  • Edmund slowly and longingly kisses Florence’s hand
  • Vaguely suggestive cartoon postcards are seen
  • An older male customer looks at an illustrated female exercise book – mildly suggestive
  • The book Lolita is discussed and sold – there is little reference to its content

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie.

Use of substances

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

  • The smoking of cigarettes by a central female character is shown on three occasions
  • Adults drink wine and dessert liqueurs at a party – No-one appears to be intoxicated

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Potato-head
  • Damn
  • Harpy is used to describe a woman
  • Bloody

In a nutshell

The Bookshop is a wistful film adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name.  While beautifully made and with performances that provide genuine drama, the story itself lacks the coherence and subtlety of the political commentary of its namesake The Bookshop. Some adults and older children (13+) may find the film entertaining – melding Isabel Coixet’s reflective European direction with English melancholic humour.

The main messages from this movie are:

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Not being afraid of change
  • The importance and joy of reading
  • The importance of female role models

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

  • The existence of sexism against women and their right and ability to be independent
  • Discussing the real-life consequences and seriousness of arson