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Papillon | 2018 | R | - 7.8.6

content-ratingsWhy is "Papillon" rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for "violence including bloody images, language, nudity, and some sexual material." The evaluation includes many scenes of brutal prison violence and horrific conditions, a couple of scenes of full frontal male nudity and some female nudity, depictions of prison sexual abuse, and strong language including a dozen F-words. Read our parents' review below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

Remake of the 1973 eponymous film and based on a true story: In 1933 a Parisian safecracker (Charlie Hunnam) is framed for murder and sentenced to life in a brutal prison in French Guiana. He befriends another prisoner (Rami Malek) and their attempts to escape land him in solitary confinement and eventually imprisoned on the notorious Devil's Island. Also with Eve Hewson, Roland Møller, Michael Socha and Yorick van Wageningen. Directed by Michael Noer. [Running Time: 2:13]

Papillon SEX/NUDITY 7

 - A man sits on another man's bed, touches his chest and the second man whispers in the first man's ear and they leave the room; we then see the first man moving rhythmically and moaning quietly as the second man performs oral sex on him off-screen (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A man and a woman kiss several times in an alley, on the street and on a train car and the man lifts himself from a grab bar on the train and wraps his legs around the woman's head with his clothed crotch at her face level as she laughs. A man and a woman lie in bed (presumably after sex) and kiss several times and we see his bare shoulders, chest and upper abdomen as well as her bare shoulders, upper chest and back to the hip, and he pats her buttock or leg (under a sheet) as she gets out of bed. A man has flashbacks to a woman kissing him. A man using a urinal is approached by another man from behind; the second man reaches around to the first man and tries to touch him but the second man pushes him away and yells and the first man threatens him as he leaves.
 Prisoners are marched through a narrow street toward a ship and a woman reaches for one man and says, "I love you." A man makes a sexual gesture by thrusting his hips. Two men hug hello and goodbye.
 A prisoner says that his wife married his lawyer. A woman is frisked and searched when she visits a man in jail. A man offers a prison guard a woman for helping free their cart from mud.
 Men are shown in a shower scene and we see bare backs, buttocks, legs, abdomens, chests and genitals (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). Dancers and cocktail servers in club scenes are shown wearing skimpy costumes that reveal bare breasts (with and without pasties), bare abdomens, backs and legs to the hips. Women in a club scene are shown wearing low-cut evening gowns that reveal bare shoulders, backs and cleavage. Many men are shown shirtless and wearing knee length underwear in a few scenes (we see bare shoulders, chests, abdomens and backs). Several scantily clad women are shown on a cart that is stuck in mud. A man is struck from behind and he falls unconscious; we see his bare buttocks and that his pants are pulled down to the upper thighs. Men are shown wearing loin cloths (we see their bare shoulders, chests, abdomens, backs and legs to the hips where) and women wear a strap across their breasts with short skirts or no tops with short skirts (we see bare breasts, cleavage, bare shoulders, abdomens, backs and legs to the hips).


 - A man straddles another man as he sleeps and we hear squishing off-screen as the man being held down screams; he spits blood and falls dead and we see that the attacker has cut his abdomen open and we see his bloody intestines out of his body and on the floor. Prisoners are told to get on their knees and bow their heads for an execution; we see a man with bloody wounds on his face being led to a guillotine, strapped in and lowered under the blade that falls and we see his head fall into a basket (blood pours from the basket and down a wall and a guard retrieves the severed head and carries it away).
 A man outside a prison cell is beaten and we hear that he is killed (we hear the beating and we see blood stream under the cell door). Two men on a boat fight, one man holds the other around the throat and then turns his face into the water to drown him; they struggle until another man stabs the one man in the back and chest and neck repeatedly until he falls dead and the remaining three men dump his body into the ocean (we see bloody cuts and streaming blood). A man is shot through the back as he runs from police (we see a bloody wound as he falls to the ground) and another man is struck with a gun butt.
 Several men attack men in a shower scene: they use bars of soap wrapped in cloth to hit with, they punch and kick each other, one man bites the ear off another man (we see blood and he spits out a piece of the ear), and one man slashes another man with a knife and we see blood. A man walks through several sleeping men and another man tackles him and punches him several times, they fight and one drops a knife on the floor and the other man wraps a hammock around his face; the man uncovers his face and punches and head-butts a few other men before guards break up the action by spraying steam in the area and one man is burned badly on the head and face (we see his reddened and blistered face and another man's bloody knuckles). A man held by two men is shown being beaten repeatedly; his face is very bloody and he moans and grunts with each blow (we hear that he died later). Two men fight in a mud puddle (we do not see the outcome). A prison guard whips a man for not cooperating and another man hits the guard in the head with a rock before running; he is chased and shot at by other guards, he jumps into a river and swims away.
 A man in a prison cell is punched in the stomach twice by another man, then struck in the face and the man falls against a wall cutting his face (we see blood on his face and the floor and he makes a bloody handprint on the wall); we later see that he has a very swollen and bruised eye. A man bites another man's hand and the second man punches him in the face (we see his bloody nose and mouth and he spits blood). A man standing in front of another man who performs oral sex on him (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) is struck in the back of the head with a metal bar and he falls unconscious. A man kicks and spits on an unconscious man. A man falls off a rope ladder and yells that he broke his leg (we see blood on the ground and he is taken away on a stretcher). Four men jump off a tall wall and one man's ankle breaks (we hear a snap and later see that the ankle very swollen). Three men struggle to keep a boat afloat in a raging storm and one man wakes up in a cot on an island. A man cuts himself on the leg and we see blood stream from the wound.
 A prisoner lies dead on the ground and another prisoner takes his rations. A man is shown hanging by the neck in a darkened room in the distance (suicide is implied). Two men carry a dead body wrapped in a tarp and blood seeps through onto one man's hands and clothing. A man with bloody face wounds spits blood on another man's white suit as he is led by guards. Men are dragged through a hallway in a prison (presumably dead) in a couple of scenes. A man is shown hog-tied with shackles on his ankles and clamps on his thumbs. A prisoner collapses and another man puts him in a cart filled with rocks. Prisoners are welcomed to a prison by the warden as they stand in front of a large guillotine (we see a blood-stained wall below the guillotine) and told, "We'll be happy to shoot you" if escape is attempted.
 Police force their way into an apartment and arrest a man for murder; we see him taken away in handcuffs and a woman yells and calls for him as he descends in an elevator. A man is surrounded by armed men on a boat dock. Four men sail in a boat that is leaking badly toward a very large storm. Prisoners are forced to do hard labor breaking rocks and loading them into carts. A man in a solitary cell puts his head through an opening to the outer hallway (we see his dark and dingy surroundings in several scenes). Many prisoners are lined up and inspected by doctors as they prepare to be transported to a prison. Prison guards patrol the compound with clubs and guns. A man is sentenced to 2 years in solitary confinement for trying to escape; the confinement is also in silence, he is given restricted rations and he is also kept in the dark for part of his time.
 A man yells in a rage and is held and given a sedative. We hear that a man has been sentenced to life in prison for a murder that he did not commit. A man says, "I'm gonna kill every rat that had anything to do with it." A man threatens to castrate another man if he were to steal from him. We hear that a man is in prison for making counterfeit bonds. A man offers another man protection for money. Men threaten each other several times in a prison setting. A man says, "I'll be dead long before my appeal." A man talks about having been locked in a cage. A man says that a man stabbed two guards and one died leaving behind two children. A warden tells a prisoner, "There is no rehabilitation, we try to break you." A warden orders that a prisoner be put in darkness, "For the remainder of his sentence or the remainder of his life, whichever comes first." A man says that his father used to beat him. We see a scene from "King Kong" as the huge ape roars and people scatter. We see newsreel footage of prisoners being marched to prison and read that 80,000 men went through the system and most did not return. We see photos of men sleeping in cots and wearing prison stripes and some with their feet in shackles.
 Two men stand at the top of a giant rock in the ocean and watch crashing waves below; later one man throws a bundle over the edge and then jumps in the ocean himself (he survives). A man climbs out a window and down a drain pipe after robbing a safe. A man kicks the bars of a jail cell in frustration. A man puts his head through an opening in a metal cell door and another man with shears crudely cuts his hair and beard.
 A man squats over a hole in the floor (it's a toilet) and is then seen holding a soiled roll of what we understand is money (he presumably removed it from his anus). There are several references to where people keep money in prison (implying in their anuses or swallowed). A man is shown with a bloody wound on his hand and says, "Something bit me," and another man points to bats on the ceiling. A man says that he has diarrhea and we see his stained pants. Large beetles skitter on the floor in a couple of scenes. We see sick and injured men in a prison infirmary; a few have bloody wounds and bandages, and we hear one man coughing violently. A man urinates in a trough on the floor (we do not see flesh or urine or hear a trickle).

Papillon LANGUAGE 6

 - About 13 F-words, 2 sexual references, 6 scatological terms, 7 anatomical terms, 12 mild obscenities, name-calling (rat, little one, unpredictable, animals, skinny, turkey, feisty, dirty old forger, honest criminal, princess, stupid, thief, little worm), exclamations (shut-up), 4 religious profanities (GD), 3 religious exclamations (e.g. Jesus Christ, Christ, For Christ's Sake). | profanity glossary |


 - A man is given a sedative that he spits out when no one is looking, a man gives another man a matchbox with several sedative pills in it, and a man pours ground-up sedatives into a bottle of liquor and pours it for several guards. People in a club are shown drinking alcohol, and people outside on a bustling street are shown holding bottles of champagne or wine and drinking from them. Several people in a club scene are shown smoking cigarettes, men smoke cigarettes in several prison scenes, people smoke cigarettes on an airplane, a man smokes a cigarette in an office, and a woman does a slight of hand trick with a cigarette.


 - Horrific prison conditions, being framed, optimism, friendship, trust, suicide, going mad, determination, solitary confinement, rehabilitation, torture tactics.

Papillon MESSAGE

 - Persistence can pay off. The 20th century French penal system was unfair and grossly inhumane.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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