Belle Isle Movie Review Essay Example

The Magic of Belle Isle stars Monte Wildhorn, a novelist who reached an impasse on his writings and with life.  Monte moves next door from a single mother, Charlotte, with three daughters. Monte encounters Finnegan, Charlotte’s middle daughter, and starts a conversation about his former career in novels. Finnegan asks Monte about advice on writing novels and imagination, and Monte accepts.  Finnegan thinks that Monte’s personality is unpleasant, but she wants to write her stories someday. Charlotte suggests to Finnegan, Willow Tree, Charlotte’s oldest daughter, and Flora, Charlotte’s youngest daughter, to dinner. Finnegan continues to take imagination lessons from Monte. During dinner, Monte talks to the women about one of his novels, and Finnegan discusses the definitions of imagination, bamboozled, and mentor. Flora invites Monte to her birthday party. Charlotte asks Monte why he stops writing, and he says that God confided in him that he was an atheist, and so Monte lost all trust in God.

Monte calls Carl, a disabled boy, and makes him Monte’s sidekick. After Monte helps Finnegan with her imagination, he starts writing stories again. During Flora’s birthday party, her dad does not show up to the party, which leaves Flora upset. To cheer her up, Monte writes a story about elephants as a birthday present for Flora. Finnegan accidentally pops a playpen, and Carl was stuck in there. The clown at the party starts getting annoyed at Finnegan, but Monte scares him by pointing a gun at him, unless he apologizes to Finn.  Charlotte tells Monte how much Flora loved Monte’s elephant story and would like to hear another story. Finnegan finds a time capsule on Belle Isle and shows it to Flora and Willow. Inside were belongings from Charlotte’s adolescence. Finnegan finds out that Monte wrote an elephant story for Flora and confronts him.  

Charlotte and Monte have a romantic evening together, and the two share a kiss. Charlotte asks Monte to watch the girls, and he accepts. After reading Charlotte’s old diary, Willow starts to act nicer around her mother. Monte tries to rekindle his friendship with Finnegan by telling her his past about his late wife and how he ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Before leaving, Monte gives Carl his white hat to remember him by, and Flora painted an elephant for Monte. Monte texts Charlotte about how he has been, and he ends up staying next door to Charlotte.

Therapeutic Implications

By listening to Monte’s past, I could see why he lost hope for his career in writing novels.  Monte suffered from losing his wife to cancer and his ability to walk at 25. Ortberg (2002) once said that suffering can change us but not for the better (p. 211). From his past, depression has caused him to reach an impasse of life. If I were Monte’s counselor, I would say that it is fine to grieve from his losses, but it is also important to know that taking small steps, such as joining a support group, is not a bad thing. Additionally, Monte should know that feeling pain from a loss is normal, but he will heal again; it just takes time.

Personal/Professional Implications

Personally, I suffer from anxiety and depression because of traumatic, emotional abuse that I still have not healed from, so I can understand why Monte felt what he felt at the beginning of the movie. When I saw Monte getting to know the O’Neil girls, it made me learn that fear is not eternal. I also learned that you cannot let the past or doubts get in the way of the future. I would address this to counselees by listening to their problems, refer to bible verses that relate to it, and explain the meaning of the verse and why I read the verse. My favorite quote from the movie is “never stop looking for what’s not there” (Newman & Reiner, 2012). I see this quote as telling someone to never give up on what they want in their life. Overall, The Magic of Belle Isle was phenomenal.


Newman, S. (Producer), & Reiner, R. (Director). (2012). The Magic of Belle Isle [Motion Picture]. United States: Magnolia Pictures.

Ortberg, J. (2002). The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Rev. ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.



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