Mr. Pip is one such movie.
I am huge Hugh Laurie fan but the synopsis is what drew me in:
In the early 1990s, civil war plagues Papua New Guinea. Against this backdrop, eccentric teacher Mr. Watts forms an unlikely bond with a 12-year-old local girl over their love of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.
This movie is PG-13 and deals with very hard issues about civil war and oppression as well as corruption for the rating it received. I feel like movie addressed these topics artfully and would move you emotionally but it wasn't doing it so much for shock value as much as telling a story from a girl's point of view.
Matilda lives with her mom in Bougainville or the Solomon islands of Papua New Guinea and are stuck there since a blockade kept people from leaving the island or entering. Mr. Watt is the only foreigner left and he takes it upon himself to teach the children about literature after all the schools on the island shut down. He reads to them 'Great Expectations' and enthralls everyone with Pip's journey.
Unfortunately, there is a civil war waging around them and Matilda uses her vivid imagination to block out the less than savory parts of her life: violence, death, etc..
Who ever was in charge of Costumes must have had lots of fun!
There are some beautifully shot scenes on site as well as in New Zealand. When Matilda gets lost in her imagination, she is placed in Dicken's world and time. The costumes are so vibrant and fun, and the setting is perfect for the story they are telling.
On a side note, I really appreciate this movie because the story telling was beautifully done with stunning shots of Bougainville and the movie was well casted. All in all, I thought it was tactful when dealing with hard issues and very poetic with their writing or setting up a scene.
On a side note:
Other movies that deal with similarly difficult issues/topics: Hotel Rwanda, the Pianist, Casualties of War, etc...
These movies did a good job of portraying these horrific times but there is usually too much gore, swearing and sex - especially for the more recent movies - for it to be PG-13 so the ratings usually were rated-R. If I were to show the aforementioned movies to a bunch of 13-year-old kids, I don't know if I'll be comfortable with showing these movies in their entirety even though many say that preteens and teenagers are desensitized to media. Granted, maybe I was a weird teenager back and that liked and sought out movies that were a bit more gritty and pushed you emotionally but Mr. Pip does it artfully and tastefully - if you can even use those words for these harsh topics.
Point being, I thought it was well done. A bit of an emotional roller coaster but well done.
Interview at Toronto Film Festival