Washington Square parents guide

Washington Square Parent Guide

This movie offers a garden of visual and aural delights, along with a message about standing up for one's self.

Overall B+

Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh) finds herself in s difficult position: Follow her heart and marry Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin), or obey her father Dr. Austin Sloper (Albert Finney) who strictly forbids the union. Determined to prove Mr. Townsend has improper intentions, Dr. Sloper promises to disinherit Cathrine if she should accept the young man's marriage proposal.

Release date October 10, 1997

Violence A-
Sexual Content B+
Profanity A-
Substance Use --

Why is Washington Square rated PG? The MPAA rated Washington Square PG for thematic elements including some sensuality, a childbirth scene and brief mild language.

Run Time: 105 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Having lost his wife while delivering their child, Dr. Sloper (Albert Finney) is devastated and hateful of his infant daughter. The child, Catherine (Jennifer Jason Leigh), grows into a plain girl, lacking the grace that was so important in the social circles of the nineteenth century. Her life is centered on pleasing her father until Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin), a handsome man with little in the way of material wealth, desires her hand in marriage. Her father, however, feels Morris is only after the family fortune, leaving Catherine to decide between the father she obsessively needs to serve, or the dashing man she adores.

Based on a book by Henry James that was previously put to film in 1949 as The Heiress (which raked in a substantial number of Oscars), Washington Square is a garden of visual and aural delights. Long, incredibly difficult camera moves, along with a lush Dolby Surround sound mix and musical score, are woven into the plentiful, but well crafted dialogue.

The film’s director, Agnieszka Holland, was behind the helm for the 1993 Warner Studios version of The Secret Garden. This movie has a similar tone, but it won’t have the same appeal to young children as it deals with a much more serious subject. In some scenes Dr. Sloper is abusive of his daughter’s innocent and trusting nature. Catherine eventually finds the self-assuredness she needs, so that her father no longer has rule over her. She then begins to ascertain for herself what her best decisions are.

Finding a love story you can share with your teens can be difficult, but except for one short scene that takes place in a seedy tavern where we overhear a sexual encounter, this movie contains little of concern for parents. Washington Square may bring tears to your eyes, but overall it provides an inspiring story of how we need to build our self-esteem upon what we value and know to be true.

Directed by Agnieszka Holland. Starring Albert Finney, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Chaplin, Maggie Smith. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release October 10, 1997. Updated