Freud’s Last Session parents guide

Freud’s Last Session Parent Guide

The movie promises big debates but offers only surface discussion before skipping on to a new topic.

Overall C

Theaters: In a fictional encounter, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis meet to discuss their widely differing opinions.

Release date January 12, 2024

Violence C
Sexual Content C
Profanity B+
Substance Use C

Why is Freud’s Last Session rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Freud’s Last Session PG-13 for thematic material, some bloody/violent images, sexual material and smoking

Run Time: 108 minutes

Parent Movie Review

As the Second World War begins, Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins) invites C.S. Lewis (Matthew Goode) to his London home for a much more refined war of words. Freud, the founder of modern psychoanalysis, is an atheist and wonders how Lewis, a respected Oxford professor, can profess and defend his Christian faith. As the two men spend the day together, they debate the existence of God and excavate the most painful episodes of each other’s lives. Lewis is haunted by his experiences in the Great War and Freud is dying of oral cancer while micromanaging the life of his 40+ year old daughter, Anna (Liv Lisa Fries). Both men are sharply critical of each other’s lives and beliefs, but their empathy and intellectual respect keep their disagreements civil.

Given the stature of the two men, this script feels thin, barely skipping over the significant issues under discussion. For instance, a big question like why a good God permits human suffering deserves more than the few lines of dialogue it gets. Too often the script feels like it’s trying to rush from one “big debate” to another, without allowing the men to dig past the surface. Instead, they offer a wry quip or memorable quote and then move on to the next issue. It’s profoundly unsatisfying – a waste of the subject material and the impressive talent of its cast.

Frustrating though the film may be, at least the negative content is relatively restrained. Freud takes legally-prescribed morphine to manage the pain of his terminal cancer, there’s a small amount of minor profanity, and there is some non-explicit discussion of sexuality. The movie’s subplot centers on Anna Freud’s lesbian relationship and while it’s not sexually explicit it also feels like a distraction from the movie’s main story, which is already underdeveloped. Battlefield violence features moments of peril and bloody injuries, but it is brief and not gratuitous. The most distressing moments in the film revolve around Freud’s cancer. He’s obviously in terrible pain and the flashbacks of medical procedures are unsettling as is the removal of a prosthesis from his mouth. It’s not violent, but it’s definitely disturbing.

Obviously, this isn’t a show targeted at mass audiences or teen viewers. I’m not even sure it’s going to be a big hit with adults who enjoy films about serious issues. But moviegoers looking for a story that will reinforce their opinions will be satisfied with Freud’s Last Session. Neither man lands a knockout blow on the other, and both clearly (albeit briefly) articulate their own beliefs. For audiences, there’s plenty of bias confirmation to be had – atheist or Christian you’ll find something to like and something to disagree with here.

Directed by Matt Brown. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Goode. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release January 12, 2024. Updated

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Freud’s Last Session
Rating & Content Info

Why is Freud’s Last Session rated PG-13? Freud’s Last Session is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic material, some bloody/violent images, sexual material and smoking

Violence: There are scenes of surgery and blood in a medical context. Battlefield flashbacks feature weapons fire, explosions, bloody injuries, and corpses.
Sexual Content: A lesbian relationship involving a significant character is a plot element. In a dream-like sequence, two women are seen embracing in bed. In the same scene, a statue of two naked, embracing women comes to life. There is a brief, non-explicit discussion of sex, homosexuality, and sexual ethics. In an analysis session with her father, a woman gives a brief and undetailed description of a masochistic sexual fantasy. There’s brief reference to a man’s affair with an older woman. In therapy, a woman mimes touching a man’s genitals.
Profanity: There are a few terms of deity and minor profanities in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults smoke cigarettes and a cigar. Adults drink alcohol. A man uses legally prescribed morphine mixed with alcohol to numb the pain of his oral cancer. Adults discuss suicide and look at cyanide pills. A terminally ill man plans to commit suicide.

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Freud’s Last Session Parents' Guide

Do you find either Lewis’s or Freud’s arguments persuasive? Where do your religious or ethical beliefs originate? Have you ever had a serious, respectful discussion with someone whose core beliefs differ from yours? What did you learn from them?

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This movie is based on a play inspired by the book The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. This book doesn’t imagine a meeting between the two men; rather it places their opinions on these topics side by side as if in a debate. Readers are able to compare their arguments and decide for themselves what they believe

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In an amusing twist, Anthony Hopkins starred as C.S. Lewis in one of our favorite films, Shadowlands. The Christian apologist’s story is also told in The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis.