Mr. Jones Parent Guide
Gareth Jones has a strong commitment to telling the truth...but no one wants to hear it.
Parent Movie Review
Gareth Jones (James Norton) is an astute young man with a thorough understanding of the political changes roiling Europe in 1933. When his employer, former Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Kenneth Cranham) cuts his position as foreign advisor due to budget constraints, Jones decides to become a journalist. It’s not an unrealistic goal – Jones has already managed to interview Adolph Hitler. Working on the assumption that talking to another notorious leader will boost his career, Jones sets his eyes on Moscow and an interview with Josef Stalin.
Moscow is more than Jones bargains for. Not only is the Soviet government determined to keep him from discovering the truth about how they are financing their modernization projects, but they are aided and abetted by a complicit Western press corps, most depressingly exemplified by the morally corrupt New York Times bureau chief, Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard).
The picture becomes immeasurably worse as Jones walks through the frozen Ukrainian landscape. He uncovers the grim secret the Soviets are trying to hide – famine. Grain has been forcibly confiscated from Ukrainian farmers to fund Stalin’s projects and the people are starving and dying by the millions. Arrested and intimidated, Jones finally returns home and shares the horrors he has seen with the world – only to discover that truth is inconvenient and unwanted.
Mr. Jones is a powerful film about moral integrity and it gains added resonance from the fact that it’s based on a real life story. Gareth Jones believes that his first duty is to the truth, and he refuses to be complicit in the attempts of the Soviets, other journalists, or his own government to whitewash the living nightmares he has seen. It’s also a depressing depiction of the terrible costs of moral relativism, particularly in Duranty’s attempts to excuse and enable the Soviet government’s abuse of its own people.
Although Mr Jones comes with strong messages, it is also burdened with some problematic content. There is a disturbing scene involving cannibalism, and another involving heavy drinking and the recreational drug use. There are also frequent shots of dead bodies. Also troubling to parents will be a party involving sexually provocative behavior and featuring extended views of breast and buttock nudity. While this does illustrate the debauchery of the press corps, it’s still not family friendly viewing and pushes the movie into Restricted territory.
The content issues are unfortunate because the film is educational and contains the kind of positive messages parents want their teens to see. As Gareth Jones says, “I don’t have an agenda unless you call truth an agenda.” That’s the kind of integrity that is necessary in any democracy at any time in history.Directed by Agnieszka Holland. Starring James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, and Peter Sarsgaasrd.. Running time: 141 minutes. Theatrical release June 19, 2020. Updated June 19, 2020
Watch the trailer for Mr. Jones
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mr. Jones rated Not Rated? Mr. Jones is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Dead bodies are seen on the ground in several scenes. Dead bodies are thrown on a sledge: a crying baby next to a corpse is also thrown on the sledge. There is mention of a man being robbed and shot in the back four times. Children are eating their dead sibling; a man inadvertently eats some too. A main character is shot at by soldiers as he runs away. A woman makes reference to her mother’s probable suicide. Men have a fistfight over bread.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. A main character attends a party where several people are seen nude: bare breasts and buttocks are seen. There is some sexually seductive behavior.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Several characters smoke. People drink in social situations. A woman injects herself with drugs.
Page last updated June 19, 2020
Mr. Jones Parents' Guide
This movie is based on a true story about the journalist Gareth Jones and his reporting on the Soviet famine of 1933.
The Atlantic: How Stalin Hid Ukraine’s Famine from the World
How accurately does the movie depict the real events?
Garethjones.org: The True Story behind the “True Story” of Mr Jones
Gareth Jones made the world aware of Stalin’s manmade famine in the Ukraine: the Holodomor. This horrific event has been denied by the Russian government and accounts of it were widely discredited for years. Why do you think people ignored this human rights atrocity?
Holodomrct.org: Holodomor Facts and History
HREC Education: Holodomor – Denial and Silences
Loved this movie? Try these books…
You can read about Gareth Jones’ experiences in Tell Them We Are Starving: The 1933 Soviet Diaries of Gareth Jones. His experiences in Ukraine are also detailed in Ray Gamache’s Gareth Jones: Eyewitness to the Holodomor. An extensive biography of Gareth Jones is provided in More Than a Grain of Truth by Margaret Siriol Colley.
Walter Duranty, the New York Times bureau chief in Moscow is the subject of a critical biography in Stalin’s Apologist by Sally J Taylor.
Extensive research lies behind Anne Applebaum’s study of the Holodomor, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. A first person account of the famine is found in Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust. Author Miron Dolot is a survivor of the Holodomor and writes from personal experience.
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