In a flashback scene from 43 years ago, the young, attractive and pregnant Rosemary Jones (Emilia Fox) is travelling by rail through the peaceful English countryside when a guard notices blood seeping from a large trunk with her name on it. She is arrested at the next train stop by police who find two dismembered bodies in her trunk. She innocently explains that her husband was going to run off with his mistress, which she couldn’t just let happen. She is consequently sent to a prison for the criminally insane.
Then, in the present time, we meet the dysfunctional Goodfellow family. Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson) is the vicar of Little Wallop, a pretty, English village. Walter is a very amiable but dull man who has little idea of the problems his family is having. Preoccupied with his vicarage, Walter doesn’t realise that his wife Gloria (Kristen Scott Thomas) is lonely, bored and frustrated. She is consequently having an affair with her golf instructor Lance, (Patrick Swayze) an egotistical sleaze with very little self-restraint. Walter’s beautiful, 17-year-old daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) is highly promiscuous and attracted to punk boys. His son Petey (Toby Parkes) is being bullied at school.
Into the fray comes a new housekeeper, Grace Hawkins (Maggie Smith). She brings with her a very large trunk, which, she says, contains a lifetime of memories. Grace has a unique and very effective way of dispensing justice and dealing with the problems that confront the Goodfellow family. She also helps Walter see things in their right perspective. With a bit of a twist to the tale, Grace helps the Goodfellows get their lives back on track.
Family secrets, teenage sexuality
- Schoolboys bully Petey, shoving, kicking and pushing him over a wall.
- The schoolboys’ bikes have been tampered with. Some boys fall heavily to the ground. One boy goes over a wall and one actually dies.
- Grace hits Lance over the head with an iron, killing him.
Content that may disturb children
- Characters talk about dismembered bodies in the trunk.
- The Goodfellows’ neighbour finds his dog dead.
- The neighbour is also killed.
- Mrs Parker, another neighbour, dies of a heart attack.
- Grace holds a large knife in her hand menacingly.
- Dead bodies are shown floating at the bottom of a pond.
Children in this age group could also be scared by the scenes described and by the dangers portrayed realistically in the movie.
Some older children could be disturbed by the murder scenes.
The movie contains several sexual references and sexual innuendo. For example:
- Gloria says that although sex is legal at 17, that doesn’t make it decent.
- Lance rubs himself against Gloria in a sexual manner.
- Gloria talks about Lillie McBride who made love in every room in her house.
- Lance watches Holly undressing at her window.
- Lance returns with a video camera to film Holly undressing.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
People drink alcohol with a meal.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity, much of which is portrayed in a disrespectful manner. For example:
- Holly and her boyfriend are obviously having sex in a Kombi van that is rocking heavily, parked outside the front of the house.
- Holly emerges from the van with her breasts exposed.
- Lance and Gloria kiss passionately in a car but she refuses to have sex there.
- Lance and Gloria meet in a beach shack and they start to strip off. When he gets down to his ‘g-string’, Gloria changes her mind.
- Holly is shown at the window naked from the waist up.
- Walter and Gloria are shown making love, although nothing too explicit is shown.
This movie contains frequent mild to medium-level coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Keeping Mum is a highly entertaining black comedy, brilliantly acted by Maggie Smith and Rowan Atkinson. It will appeal to many adults and older adolescents.
This movie explores the notion of having priorities in life, and creating a balance between work and play. It also suggests that relationships need attention or they will fall apart. The film seems to give the impression that it’s OK to take the law into your own hands. You could talk about these issues as well as the real-life consequences of behaviours such as bullying, sexual promiscuity, sexual perversion and taking revenge.