Story

In The Bookshop, Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is an independent and free-thinking war widow who decides to open a small bookshop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. Florence’s humble dream sparks a small social revolution, pitting her progressive, liberal values against the village’s conservative and traditional values, embodied by Mrs Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson). With the unlikely friendship of the private Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) and the outspoken book-hating Christine (Honor Kneafsey), Florence must defend her right to provide the town with books and the freedom to read them.

Themes

Death of spouse; sexism toward women

Violence

The Bookshop has some violence and references to violence. For example:

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

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Bookshop has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example, Florence screams very loudly at a man to leave her bookshop.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, The Bookshop has some scenes that could scare or disturb children aged 5-8 years. For example:

  • It’s implied that Florence’s husband died in the war.
  • Edmund experiences shortness of breath following an argument with Violet. He’s subsequently shown dead on the ground after suffering a heart attack.

From 8-13
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, The Bookshop has some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged 8-13 years. For example, it’s implied that Christine sets fire to the bookshop, but there’s no indication that anyone is hurt, or that she’s punished.

Over 13
There is nothing of concern for children in this age group.

Sexual references

The Bookshop has some sexual references. For example:

  • 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.
  • A scene shows some vaguely suggestive cartoon postcards.
  • An older male customer looks at an illustrated female exercise book.
  • The book Lolita is discussed and sold, but there’s little reference to its content.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Bookshop shows some use of substances. For example:

  • A central female character smokes cigarettes.
  • Adults drink wine and dessert liqueurs at a party. No-one seems to be drunk.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Nescafe coffee.

Coarse language

The Bookshop has some coarse language and name-calling.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Bookshop is a wistful adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name. Although it’s beautifully made and has genuinely dramatic performances, the movie lacks the coherent and subtle political commentary of the novel. Some adults and children aged over 13 years might find the movie entertaining and interesting for the way it blends Isabel Coixet’s reflective European direction with English melancholic humour. Ultimately, however, the movie doesn’t have the depth that viewers might expect if they’ve read the novel.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • a positive attitude to change
  • a love of books and reading
  • the importance of female role models.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:

  • sexist attitudes towards women and how these restrict women’s independence
  • arson.