Why is Flora and Son Rated R? Age Rating Guide

By Louie Fecou
Published: September 29, 2023 (Last updated: 4 days ago)
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Why is Flora and Son Rated R - Age Rating Guide

The music of the Apple TV+ movie Flora and Son is scattered throughout the production, but the film is not a musical with choreographed set pieces but is instead there to drive the motivations of the characters, so why is it rated R? We detail the plot and discuss the meaning behind the age rating. 

A young mum and a wayward son try to find common ground through music. With a limited theatrical release, this slice-of-life comedy-drama was written and directed by John Carney.

The name will be familiar to fans of music and movies, as Carney was behind Once in 2007, Begin Again in 2013, and the hugely successful Sing Street in 2016.

With Carney being a native of Ireland, he uses what he knows best in this latest flick, setting it firmly in the working-class center of the country.

If you are familiar with Carney’s work, you will know the method he uses to make the film a musical when it’s not really one.

With a believable and ground-level cast, Flora and Son has the kind of heart you would expect from the writer and director but also includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the online guitar tutor, Jeff, who finds himself with the enviable task of teaching Flora how to play.

The film is an endearing look at the relationship between a young mother and her son and their struggle against each other as they try to make their way through life. Sounds heartwarming, doesn’t it, so why does the film have an R rating in the US and a 15 in the UK?

Flora and Son Plot Explained

Young mother Flora struggles with her son Max. Fourteen-year-old Max dreams of being a rapper but is slowly sliding off the tracks and taking it out on his hapless mother.

They are both somewhat rudderless, butting heads with each other and being generally miserable. Flora finds Max a discarded guitar, gifting it to him on his birthday.

It goes as well as you think it would, but after a few drinks, Flora decides to sign up for an online guitar lesson with Jeff, a resident of L.A., who is probably also struggling with his day-to-day.

Writing a love song together, the various versions peppered throughout the screenplay form a spine for the story, and Carney’s characters slowly evolve and head toward the third act.

Why is Flora and Son Rated R?

It seems that the rating comes from the use of language throughout the movie.

Obviously, in the UK and Ireland, we don’t seem too bothered by the barrage of verbal atrocities spewing from the mouths of the characters, as it only garners a fifteen rating here. However, it does manage to pull an R from the U.S. censors.

There are also some drug references and some sex references that also push the rating to where it lands.

There must have been an opportunity to lighten up on those aspects, but to stay honest to the characters and the setting, Carney makes the right decision to at least be honest enough to allow his flawed creations to behave the way we know they would.

Age Rating R Guide

R means Restricted. In the U.S., an R-rated film means people under seventeen must have a parent or guardian with them at the screening. It means that the film will probably have strong language, adult themes, adult activities, violence that is persistent and probably gratuitous, nudity, and sex.

Some will have all of the above.

Parents are often urged not to take younger children into an R-rated movie, although technically, they probably could.

In the U.S., this rating is just one under the NC-17 rating that stipulates that nobody under the age of seventeen will be admitted. In the UK, the equivalent rating is an 18, which is the same as the US NC-17, but a year up.

These ratings were formally what the industry would call an X certificate.

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