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(1996) (Judy Davis, Richard Roxburgh) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Moderate Minor Mild
Moderate None Minor None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Heavy Mild Moderate Moderate Mild

Black comedy: An Australian woman tries to bring communism to her homeland in the 1950's, but instead has a child with Stalin who grows up to be very much like his biological father.
Joan Fraser (JUDY DAVIS) is a politically active communist supporter in 1950's Australia. Proud of her arrest record and never shy to speak her mind, she wants to bring communism to her homeland. This doesn't sit well with Zachary Welch (GEOFFREY RUSH), a man who wants to marry her and who agrees with her principles just to be her boyfriend. Her behavior brings about the attention of David, a.k.a., "Nine" (SAM NEILL), an Australian Security Intelligence Service agent, who may also work for the Russians. She then travels to Russia to meet Stalin (F. MURRAY ABRAHAM), and ends up sleeping with both him and Nine who has also shown up there. However, Stalin dies in bed with her, and she returns home pregnant and decides to marry Zachary. Her son is born, and later, as an adult, Joe (RICHARD ROXBURGH) is just as much a radical as his mom. An affair with a police constable, Anna (RACHEL GRIFFITHS), however, makes him support the police, much to Joan's chagrin. As Joan continues her waning protests, Joe becomes more politically active, and the resemblance to his late father's appearance and behavior grows stronger day by day.
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's doubtful that a story about communism and political behavior over several decades in Australia will draw them in.
For some strong sexuality and language.
  • JUDY DAVIS plays a strong willed, politically active woman who wants to overthrow her native government and replace it with communism. She sleeps with two men in the same day, and is proud of her many arrests.
  • RICHARD ROXBURGH plays a man who slowly inherits his dictator-father's appearance, behavior and attitudes. Accordingly, his attitude gets worse as the story progresses. In addition, he likes to be in jail, is a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war, and has sex with a police officer.
  • SAM NEILL plays a mystery government man, who smokes and drinks, violates people's civil rights, and reportedly had several people shot.


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    An Australian film that won Judy Davis that country's 1996 Film Institute award for Best Actress, "Children of the Revolution" is a fabulously witty satire. The leads -- Davis and Roxburgh -- are tremendously successful in their creation of memorable, black comedy characters. It's nice to see that the rest of the cast performs just as well, from the supporting characters down to those just briefly seen. Filmed in a "mockumentary" style, the film mixes post-story interviews with subtitled names, black and white photos and newsreel footage, nearly giving the film a true event feel. While that would seemingly detract from the comedy and the film's pace, it actually leads to a nice, humorous touch and fills in when the story jumps forward in time. There are many very funny moments, such as when a huge fan-blown bacon fry is used to quell a hunger strike; as Joe slowly turns into his dictator father he never knew; and when Joan proclaims the arrival of McDonald's into Red Square as "the end of civilization as we know it." With enough clever moments that begin to tie plot points together, this comes across as a pleasing production -- one that tickles the intellect as much as it does the funny bone. Davis is superb in her role as the political activist and it's no surprise that she won the film award, for this is a role that could easily compete in the Oscars in any given year. Roxburgh is amusing, and has an Eric Idle (of "Monty Python" fame) quality about him, as well as an amusing resemblance to that actor that only adds to the film's overall humorous stance. While many might not appreciate the humor as it aims for something above the lowest common denominator -- a rare commodity these days -- those who find humor in irony and subtle inferences will surely enjoy this film. We did, and we give it a 7.5 out of 10.
    Since younger kids will probably avoid this film, you don't really need to worry about them not understanding the "blackness" of this comedy. Still, there is some objectionable material about which you might want to know. There are several sex scenes, with one of them being graphic but short, and Davis' character sleeps with two men on the same day and gets pregnant. 10+ "f" and "s" words top the profanity category, and two separate suicide attempts occur, but aren't successful nor graphically obvious. There is some drinking and smoking and some muted violence, including a murder that's presented in a documentary, still photograph style. If you or your children are interested in seeing this film, you may want to examine its content before doing so.

  • Some people who are interviewed (for the documentary) drink beer.
  • Joan and Welch drink with their friends at an early communist meeting, and they drink again after a referendum vote and a few of them are passed out.
  • People drink wine and vodka at a Stalin dinner party.
  • Nine drinks vodka after having sex with Joan.
  • People drink champagne to celebrate Stalin's death.
  • Welch is drinking when Joan returns home from Russia.
  • Nine drinks from a flask in several scenes, and appears to be somewhat drunk in one.
  • Joe has wine with dinner.
  • Bloody welts and bruises are seen on Joe's face and arms, suggesting that he's being beaten up in prison.
  • Anna's nose and cheek are slightly bloody after Joan punches her.
  • Still photographs show bloody bullet holes in a woman who's been shot.
  • Joan's straight forward, in your face approach to being politically active may come across as having both types of attitude, especially when she's proud that both she and her son end up in jail (together and separately).
  • Nine breaks into Joan's home (and waits for her return) and admits to having intercepted her mail. He also comments that he's responsible for several people's deaths in the past (not seen).
  • Welch goes along with Joan's antics only because he's attracted to her (but tells her he believes what she does), and she turns down his proposal for marriage, but reconsiders after she finds herself pregnant from another man.
  • Joe changes for the worse as he becomes more politically active, and when his mother tells him "they'll kill you" he replies, "So? It's not my life anymore." It's later implied that he's responsible for several people's deaths (he believed they were getting in his way).
  • Some people may find the following scenes tense, although they're not overtly designed that way. Joan finds Nine after he's tried to kill himself from gas inhalation, and in another scene Anna contemplates an overdose and Joe later rubs a gun against his head (scratching, not suicidal) while reading her suicide notes.
  • There's a brief series of still photos showing the incident where Joan is shot.
  • Pistols: Seen on Stalin's desk, and in another scene, there's one on Anna's table, while she contemplates suicide. Later, when she awakens from her attempted overdose, she sees Joe reading her suicide notes while rubbing the pistol against his head (scratching), but he never uses it against her.
  • Guns: Although not seen, Nine tells Joan that years ago he had a couple shot for plotting against the government.
  • Rifles: Carried by Soviet guards.
  • Gun: Used to shoot Joan, but the act is only seen in a series of still photographs.
  • Phrases: "Bloody," "Bloke," "Bastard," "Idiot," and "Shut up."
  • Both Joan and Joe are political activists (with her wanting to politically overthrow the government) and don't mind being thrown in jail.
  • Joe, as a young adult, repeatedly spray paints graffiti on a wall so that Anna, a police officer, will arrest him.
  • Joe participates in a hunger strike.
  • Nine tries to kill himself from natural gas inhalation, and Anna later tries to do the same from an overdose. Neither succeeds.
  • None.
  • There is a minor amount of suspenseful music in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • 11 "f" words (2 used sexually with 1 of them silently mouthed), 13 "s" words, 2 possible slang terms for female genitals (the "c" word), 1 ass word (used with "hole"), 1 crap, and 4 uses of "For God's sakes," 2 each of "Jesus," "Christ," and "God," and 1 use of "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • While primping himself for his meeting with Joan, Stalin straps on an oversized, under- the-pants codpiece (to make himself look "bigger").
  • It's implied that Joan and Stalin sleep together (since she's later seen in a panic with her clothes in disarray, and Stalin dead in his bed) and later we find out she's pregnant from this encounter.
  • It's also implied, and later stated, that Joan and Nine slept together (they're seen kissing before, and afterwards they sit up against the bed and Nine drinks vodka).
  • An infant boy, just born, is obviously nude.
  • Joan and Nine think that Joe is getting roughed up in a jail cell, but the sounds they're hearing are of Joe and Anna having sex. We then see her on top of him, and then in close up (head and shoulders) some movement is observed, but no nudity is seen.
  • Anna meets Joe in the prison's social room and they are separated by a glass wall. She erotically feels her clothed breast, while he mouths the words, "I want to "f" you."
  • Joe and Anna have sex, and the thrusting of his bare buttocks is seen as he lies on top of her. Her bare breasts are also briefly seen, as is more movement and some handcuffs, and sexual sounds are heard.
  • More quick shots of Joe and Anna having sex are seen (this time under the sheets), one with him on top, the other with him having sex with her from behind. It's also mentioned that she's having problems being intimate with Joe as he starts to look more and more like Stalin.
  • People are seen smoking in newsreel footage and some people being interviewed smoke as well.
  • Nine smokes in several scenes.
  • People smoke while meeting with Joe about a prison strike.
  • Zachary must deal with his wife's behavior, and often has to go to the jail to bail her (and occasionally Joe) out.
  • Joe argues with his mother about their differing activist beliefs and behavior, and says (about her belief in communism) that she's "either mad or stupid."
  • Joe is upset to find out after all of these years that Zachary isn't his biological father, and more specifically that Anna knew that and lied to him.
  • Anna, believing that Stalin was responsible for killing her parents and seeing that Joe is looking more like him, first can't be intimate with him, and later tries to kill herself because of this.
  • Having put up with enough of Joan's behavior, Zachary finally moves out of the house.
  • The portrayal of Stalin as a funny character.
  • Communism.
  • Unprotected sex -- Joan gets pregnant from her encounter with Stalin, and she also slept with Nine on the same day.
  • Attempting suicide.
  • Nine tells Joan that years ago he had a couple shot for plotting against the government.
  • Footage shows police and protestors shoving each other during a Vietnam protest, with officers hitting a few people with billy clubs and others jumping the officers.
  • Joe encounters a prison bully, and we hear the sound of him being hit, and later see his bandaged hand, implying that the bully hurt him in some way.
  • Bloody welts and bruises are seen on Joe's face and arms, suggesting that he's being beaten up in prison.
  • A propane tank explodes in the prison and a fire rages through a cell block. Although not seen, Joe is severely burned.
  • After Anna makes a disparaging remark about her, Joan punches Anna, who waits a moment and returns the punch.
  • There's a brief series of still photos showing the incident where Joan is shot and we also hear that one of Joe's opponents was killed, presumably caused by him.

  • Reviewed June 7, 1997

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