The Man in the Hat parents guide

The Man in the Hat Parent Guide

This is less a coherent narrative than a collection of finely constructed vignettes set in the beautiful south of France.

Overall B-

Digital on Demand: As the man in the hat journeys across France in his little Fiat 500, he finds himself pursued by five angry men in a Citroen. But that's not the only story playing out here.

Release date May 14, 2021

Violence B-
Sexual Content B
Profanity A
Substance Use B

Why is The Man in the Hat rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated The Man in the Hat Not Rated

Run Time: 95 minutes

Parent Movie Review

It’s a summer evening in Marseille, and a man (unnamed and played by Ciaran Hinds) enjoys a leisurely dinner on a café terrace until he sees a group of men dump a body-shaped parcel in the harbor. When the men cast dark glances at him, he flees, heading off in his tiny Fiat for a madcap journey through the south of France.

The plot holes pile up quickly. The obvious choice for anyone in his situation is to go straight to the police or to drive away as fast and as far as possible. Instead, he makes his way casually through Provence in his tiny Fiat, repeatedly crossing paths with the same group of men.

The coincidences in the film strain credulity – the men are not the only people he repeatedly encounters. No matter how far he drives, he keeps coming across a female bicyclist, a depressed man, and two young people obsessively measuring everything they see. This can be annoying until you set logic aside and see The Man in the Hat as a fable instead of a linear narrative. If you surrender your expectation of a coherent storyline and instead adopt a zen-like attitude towards the movie’s finely constructed vignettes, you will find it much more enjoyable.

Aside from the loony plot, there’s plenty here to enjoy. The big star of the film is France itself, with the movie featuring the kind of sun-drenched countryside vistas and quaint, colorful towns that lure tourists by the millions. Watching the movie had me wondering if the thin filaments of plot were nothing more than an excuse to travel around France filming beautiful shots. The other stars are the actors, particularly Ciaran Hinds whose almost wordless portrayal is filled with emotion. Most of the other actors don’t speak or speak only in French (without subtitles), giving their performances greater power as they project excitement, despair, sorrow, hope, resignation, contentment, loss, and love on to the screen.

Despite the lack of English dialogue, the movie’s main themes come across clearly – messages about the kindness of strangers and the enduring power of community. In a time when cultural currents increasingly isolate us in front of screens and in like-minded silos, this movie is a touching reminder of the benefits that come from spending time with people who introduce us to new experiences and different perspectives.

The Man in the Hat is unrated, and while most of the content is unremarkable, there are a few issues parents will want to consider. All characters drink wine with every meal, but this is France, so that’s not a surprise. There is also a scene where Hinds’s character overhears a loud night of passion in an adjoining hotel room; but the scene of tender parting the next morning is very touching. There’s also an attempted suicide with a firearm, but the man eventually recovers his mental health. These issues land the film in PG-13 range, but this isn’t a movie that will appeal to most teens. It’s very much a niche film aimed at adults looking for something quiet, thoughtful, and a bit different.

Whether you see this film as whimsical, magical, weird, or dull, is entirely a matter of taste. If you want action, witty dialogue, or a straightforward narrative, this isn’t the movie for you. But if you love classic silent films or if you want little vignettes scattered across the south of France, washed in golden sunlight, this could be your kind of cinema.

Directed by John-Paul Davidson & Stephen Warbeck. Starring Ciarán Hinds, Stephen Dillane, and Sasha Hails. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release May 14, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Man in the Hat

The Man in the Hat
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Man in the Hat rated Not Rated? The Man in the Hat is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence:  A man watches as a group of men dump a parcel that looks like a human body into the harbor. A bull chases men around an arena. A man repeatedly points a gun at his own head before firing into the ceiling. Rival vendors throw each other’s produce.
Sexual Content: A man in a hotel room hears noises and moaning from an adjoining room: sex is implied. The next morning the man and woman are seen kissing and embracing. A couple enthusiastically jump in a tent: the man’s trousers slip and expose his underwear and sex is implied.
Profanity:  None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Almost everyone drinks wine with their meals.  People drink beer while listening to music in a social setting. A main character drinks alcohol in a bar.

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The Man in the Hat Parents' Guide

What does the man in the hat learn about the people he encounters en route? What have you learned from people you’ve met while traveling? What do you think are the best reasons to travel? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Rowan Atkinson helms a bizarre, comical trip through France in Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

The Italian countryside gets prime screen time in Letters to Juliet as American and British tourists go in search of current, new, and lost loves.

If you want to see more of Ciaran Hinds’s work, you can watch him in Amazing Grace, The Sum of All Fears, and John Carter.

The film’s fabulist vibe has much in common with the famous Quebec-based Cirque du Soleil. You can watch two of their performances in Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away and Cirque du Soleil: Dralion.