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Poor Things | 2023 | R | – 10.7.8

content-ratingsWhy is “Poor Things” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “strong and pervasive sexual content, graphic nudity, disturbing material, gore, and language.” The evaluation includes many graphic sex scenes in a variety of configurations and sexual activity with full male and female nudity, discussions of sex and sex for money, a suicide by falling from a bridge, many scenes of surgical theaters with very bloody bodies and body parts and the reanimation of dead bodies, a few fights, a self-inflicted gunshot wound, discussions of ownership of women and treating women as property, many arguments, and over 30 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

A scientist (Willem Dafoe) obsessed with reanimation, retrieves the nearly dead body of a pregnant woman (Emma Stone) and switches her brain with that of her own unborn child. After the procedure, the woman discovers how both painful and beautiful life can be, as she explores sensual pleasures with utter abandon. Also with Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, Kathryn Hunter, Vicki Pepperdine, Jerrod Carmichael, Suzy Bemba and Christopher Abbott. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. A few lines of dialogue are spoken in Portuguese without translation and others in French with and without translation. [Running Time: 2:21]

Poor Things SEX/NUDITY 10

 – A man and a young woman have sex in an extended scene showing them in a variety of positions and we see thrusting, and hear moaning and gasping (we see the man’s bare chest, abdomen, buttocks and legs and the woman’s bare breasts, abdomen, pubic hair, buttocks and legs). A man chooses a young woman from a line-up of women for sex and we see the man fully nude (his bare chest, abdomen, genitals and buttocks are evident) in a room where the young woman climbs on the bed and lies on her back as the man removes her undergarments to reveal her bare legs and pubic hair; he climbs on top of her, thrusts briefly and moans loudly. A young woman is shown with a leather strap around her mouth and tied around the wrists to the ceiling as a man thrusts into her from behind and we hear grunting (we see her bare breasts, abdomen and shoulders). A man chooses a young woman for sex and she removes her top (we see her bare breasts, pubic hair, bare back and buttocks) in a room where the man undresses (we see him fully nude without genitals visible), has her lean forward against a wall and thrusts from behind repeatedly (we hear slapping and grunting). A man and a young woman have sex standing against a wall with thrusting and moaning (we see bare backs, shoulders and sides). A man introduces his two sons (seemingly young teens) to a young woman and describes to them how he has sex with the young woman to teach them and we see one of the teens taking notes in a notebook; the man thrusts on top of the young woman and moans (we see her bare breasts, buttocks and abdomen and his bare back and buttocks); when the man seems to be having trouble climaxing, the young woman offers to either insert her thumb in his anus or choke him slightly to “move things along.” A young woman thrusts on top of a man (we see his bare shoulders, chest and abdomen and her bare breasts and abdomen); when the man dresses and leaves the room we see that he is a priest. A topless young woman (we see her bare breasts and abdomen) straddles and thrusts on top of a man repeatedly while she gasps and moans. A young woman performs oral sex on another young woman (we see her bare breasts and abdomen) and she moans; they embrace while lying in bed together later.
 A young woman puts a piece of fruit between her legs (blocked from view by a dining table) and we hear rhythmic movement as she moans sexually. A young woman’s bare breasts and abdomen are shown along with her bare legs to the hips and we hear rhythmic movement and gasping (we understand that she is masturbating). A young woman masturbates alone in her bed and moans and writhes.
 A fully nude man (we see genitals, bare chest, abdomen, buttocks and legs) skitters on the floor like a bug and chews on a young woman’s hair as she reclines on a sofa. A young woman in a laboratory touches the penis of a male cadaver and flops it around a couple of times; we see the body fully nude including the genitals. A fully nude female cadaver is shown in a laboratory and we see her bare breasts, abdomen, side of her hip and buttock and pubic hair. A young woman is undressed by a woman and we see her bare breasts and partial abdomen.
 A young woman drops her skirt and we see her pubic hair, abdomen and bare legs. Several women of varying ages stand in a line for men to pick them for sex in a few scenes; we see a few of them with bare breasts and others bare abdomens and legs. A young woman wears a low-cut nightdress that reveals cleavage in several scenes. A woman wears a corset and underwear revealing bare shoulders, cleavage and bare legs to the hips and we see that her body is fully covered with heavy tattoos.
 A young woman licks a man’s ear and tells him to lick her ear (he does). A young woman kisses a man and puts a chloroform-soaked handkerchief across his mouth, knocking him unconscious. A young woman kisses a man, proposes to him and he accepts. A young woman slaps a man in the face and then kisses him. A man tenderly kisses a young woman on the head.
 A young woman picks up a cucumber from a table and tells a young man that she will use it for sexual gratification (he is alarmed and tries to correct her behavior). A man says that he is going to pinch a young woman and reaches between her legs; she reacts suggestively. A young woman asks a man at a bar about oral sex. A young woman tells a man, “Let us touch each other’s genital pieces,” and he declines the invitation. A young woman questions a woman about her sex life and discusses self-gratification. A young woman grabs a woman’s skirt telling her that she will show her how to feel happy and the woman complains, “She grabbed my hairy business.” A man yells that he is a eunuch and has no sexual impulses.
 A man proposes to a young woman and she accepts. A man proposes to a young woman and she declines the offer. A woman describes how a young woman can make money as a sex worker. A husband says that his wife suffers from “sexual hysteria.” A young woman asks another young woman about the scar on her abdomen and she calls it a “baby scar”; the young woman says that it is an accident scar.
 A man and a young woman dance to discordant music.


 – A man prepares medical instruments to perform a circumcision on a woman. A man has a growth in his abdomen and another man uses a scalpel to open the flesh over it; blood trickles from the incision and the man tells the other man to close him up, after they determine there is a tumor and many polyps around it. A man cuts open the skull of a cadaver and we see the brain as he removes it; we then see a fetus floating in a jar (we understand that the fetus’s brain has been transplanted into the cadaver’s skull). A woman on a surgical table is zapped in the head with electricity to reanimate her. A man using a scalpel cuts open the chest of a cadaver (we see some blood trickle from the incision); a young woman stabs a scalpel into another cadaver’s eyes repeatedly and says, “Squish, squish, squish” (we see the bloody damage). A man cuts into a brain with some blood visible using a large carving knife. A cadaver is shown with its chest and abdomen fully open and organs and flesh exposed.
 Strident violin plays to accompany opening credits as we see a woman allowing herself to fall off a bridge and into water below; she dies and we later see that the woman was pregnant. A husband insists that his wife drink a Martini that contains chloroform, and she takes the glass and throws it in his face causing him to shoot himself in the foot and collapse to the floor (we see a bloody wound and blood pools on the floor); a man later removes the bullet and we see some blood. A woman cries when she sees people suffering from starvation and sweltering heat and tries to leave a ship to go help them but she is stopped by a man that holds her and she bites his hand and cries (we see his hand bleeding and the young woman’s mouth is covered with blood). Two men fight on a dance floor, with one hitting the other and one man jumping on the back of another man; a young woman kicks a man in the genitals and he collapses to the floor. A man punches another man in the stomach. A man slams his head on a bar a few times and collapses on the floor. A young woman yells at a man in a carriage and lunges at him, she hits him and another man holds her back while the first man sedates her with chloroform. A young woman slaps a man in the face then kisses him. A man searches for a young woman to throw her overboard, she punches him in the throat and he is taken away by two sailors. A man is punched in the stomach and falls to his knees.
 A young woman climbs through a window and onto a roof where she slides down one angled area toward another flat roof to look at the view. A young woman bangs on a piece of meat with a meat mallet and accidentally hits a woman’s hand with the mallet causing her to yell. A woman bites a young woman on the ear and says she drew blood (we do not see blood).
 A man locks a young woman in a trunk and we see her emerge on a ship at sea; she locks herself in the bathroom and sleeps in the bathtub accusing the man of imprisoning her. A young woman steals money from a man and gives it to two men to give to the poor people onshore; the man she stole from yells angrily and is told he will be put off the ship at the next port for lack of funds; a sailor then punches him in the stomach.
 A man holds a frog in his hands and shows it to a young woman who says, “Kill it,” as she smashes the man’s hands together; when he opens his hands again we see the frog with blood on and around it (presumably dead). A sailor snaps the neck of a seagull in his hands after it apparently defecated on him; he then throws the carcass overboard. A man yells and calls for a young woman from the street as he pulls out clumps of hair; he pleads with her to join him. A man holds a gun on another man (a servant) when he tries to clear his plate. A man orders a servant to serve soup and when she enters the room carrying a large bowl of the soup, the man orders his Doberman Pincer to bark causing the woman to flinch and spill the soup on her (she curses); the man laughs at her and holds a pistol as she leaves the room. We see a variety of animals with assorted body parts including a pig’s head on a chicken’s body, a duck’s head on a dog’s body, etc.
 A young woman tosses plates onto the floor shattering them and smiles. A young woman bangs on the keys of a piano with her hands and her feet. A young woman yells at a man and demands that he take her out; he refuses and she throws several laboratory glass containers on the floor, shattering them and spilling their contents. A man trips on a flight of stairs and falls upward but is not injured.
 A man yells at a young woman when she says she is leaving with another man and he says, “I will bash his head in.” A young woman says, “I will punch that baby,” as she approaches a crying child in a restaurant. A character refers to “dead, blind babies.” A man threatens, “I’ll kick your dog to death,” when another man’s dog approaches him. A man says, “I’d beat the tar out of him.” A husband tells his wife that he will kill her if she tries to leave; he says, “I’ll beat your head in with a bat,” and that he would shoot her in the back of the head. A man and a woman argue in an unidentified language. A man tells a young woman that she is an orphan and that her parents were killed in a landslide. A man talks about the dangers of going outside and comments about “inhaling toxic grass seed” and that people find his appearance frightening. A man describes his father pinning his thumbs as an experiment and that the pain was excruciating (we see the man’s thumbs mangled and misshapen). A man describes his father placing “hot irons on his genitals” and says that he branded him. A man threatens to throw a woman overboard while on a sea vessel. A young woman complains of a man making ungodly noises while having sex and about another man’s smell. A young woman tells a man, “There’s something broken in you.” A woman says that a young woman may be mentally ill. A man describes falling off his bike as a child and watching the blood run down his leg. A young woman receives a letter from a man saying that he is dying and that she should come back to be with him. A young woman asks a man if she had a fishhook in her nose when the man found her dead in the water. A man tells a young woman that when operating, “Always carve with compassion.” A man describes feeling disemboweled and that in the battlefield it would be accompanied by a stench. During a wedding ceremony, a man enters the church and protests to the proceedings saying that the young woman is already married. A man describes that his wife had a mental annulment over her pregnancy. A husband describes his wife as “territory.” A man says that he needs to use the facilities and describes having a weak bladder; another man tells him that it could be prostate cancer.
 A man has a hook prosthetic on his arm and we see the stump of his arm through the metal cage holding the hook. A man moves on his hands and knees, eating leaves and making sounds like a goat. A beating heart accompanies the opening credits. A man wears an apron that is covered with blood in a class where people sit in seats above the operating theater watching. A man has deep scars on his face. A surgical journal contains sketches of a human head with the skull open and the brain exposed. A man has a ragged scar on his head and shaved hair. We see a scar on the back of a young woman’s neck and on her abdomen later. A woman in a dining room is seen with her hair on fire and someone throws a towel over her head to douse the flames (we do not see injuries). A man lies dying on a bed and a young woman and a man lie next to him on either side as he takes his last breath.
 A young woman bangs on a table with silverware and then eats with her fingers and spits partially chewed food out on the table (we see the pieces of food). A young woman vomits on the ground a couple of times and we see goo and hear her retch. A man makes a deep belching sound, opens his mouth and produces a large bubble that floats away and pops in a few scenes and we are told that his father removed organs from the man when he was a child as an experiment and he cannot produce gastric juices. A young woman throws a piece of chewed kipper at a young man and it hits him in the face. A young woman puts a handful of nuts into her mouth, starts to chew them and spits them back out. A young woman calls out “wee, wee,” and we realize that she is urinating on the floor (we see a trickle). A man flatulates and another man turns away disgusted.
 A young woman throws fruit at a young man and he catches it. A man throws a ball to a young woman, who does not catch it and it hits her in the face; she falls to the ground crying. A man takes books away from a young woman and accuses her of reading all the time; he throws them overboard on a ship.

Poor Things LANGUAGE 8

 – About 32 F-words, 17 sexual references, 3 scatological terms, 16 anatomical terms, 3 mild obscenities, name-calling (conventional, monster, demon, flawed, demon, retard, nowhere girl, hurtful, Bella whore, boring, cad, rake, diabolical, sick and poorly, orphan, imbecile, thief, slum poor, pretty moron, devil’s work, broken little boy, cowardly, selfish, thoughtless, flighty, whores, idiot), exclamations (how dare you, shut the [F-word deleted] up), 19 religious exclamations (e.g. God, the Devil’s work, a man’s name is Godwin and a young woman refers to him as God, Jesus, why in God’s name would he do that, Mother of God, good God). | profanity glossary |


 – People are rendered unconscious by chloroform-soaked handkerchiefs in a couple of scenes, and a man says that he is using cocaine and heroin to manage his pain (we do not see him taking them). Two men drink glasses of port, a man offers a woman champagne, a man drinks wine with a meal, a man and a young woman drink champagne, a man holds a Martini that we are told contains gin and chloroform, people drink and smoke and gamble in a casino, and a woman drinks many shots of liquor in a bar and we see her passed out later. A woman smokes a cigarette in several scenes, a man smokes a cigarette, a man smokes a pipe, and a man smokes a cigarette in a ship’s stateroom.


 – Scientific experimentation, sensuality, discovery, mediocrity, suicide, depression, cynicism, idealism, jealousy, anger, confusion, empathy, experience, scarcity of wealth, happiness, socialism, religion, amnesia, capitalism, alternate worlds.

Poor Things MESSAGE

 – Learning about the world can make you a better person.


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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