Cat Person

NZ release: 02 November 2023

Sex scenes, violence, offensive language and content that may disturb Rated on: 10 October 2023

cat person movie poster

What’s it about?

Margot, a 20-year-old sophomore college student, meets Robert, an older man and regular attendee at the movie theatre she works at. The pair begin to flirt via text and then date until a series of differing perceptions, miscommunications, and misunderstandings prompt Margot to take decisive action. The film is told from Margot's perspective as she navigates dating and aims to find a balance between societal expectations and her own desires.

The facts

  • Director Susanna Fogel (The Spy Who Dumped Me)
  • English language
  • Runtime 118 minutes
  • Inspired by The New Yoker fictional short story by Kirsten Roupenian

Why did it get this rating?

The film sets the tone of the story with the Margaret Atwood quote:

“Men are afraid women will laugh at them.

Women are afraid men will kill them.”

Sex scenes

The film features a drawn out but not graphic sex scene, that is in parts amusing, uncomfortable, mediocre, and disturbing. Margot isn’t enjoying the sex and copes by talking to herself and disconnecting from her own body. Her subconscious is depicted as herself standing in the room watching the interaction and questioning what is going on. We see Margot and Robert going through different sexual positions, but the focus of the camera and the scene is more on Margot’s face and her inner dialogue than a graphic depiction of the sex. This scene shows the grey areas of consent and communication with a sexual partner. The scene may be uncomfortable for people who have had negative sexual experiences.

Violence

Margot fears violence at the hands of men and imagines frightening scenarios while she’s with Robert. These flash by quickly but are disturbing: she imagines him trapping her in a small closet and pinning her to the wall; locking the doors and choking her to prevent her leaving his car; imagining a chained and bloodied woman inside one of the rooms in his home.

In a climactic scene Margot wakes to find herself injured and trapped inside Robert’s apartment. They fight as she attempts to leave, and he tries to stop her. We see her biting him, he chokes her, she hits him with a bottle. They’re both bloodied and badly injured.

Offensive language

Strong swear words are used at times in a shocking and aggressive way. For example “you f*cking manipulated me”, “don’t f*cking move”, “whore”.

Content that may disturb

Throughout the film Margot has dreamlike fantasies and nightmares that inter cut with the present day ‘reality’ that we see playing out. In one nightmare she is walking in a dark hallway with blood streaks on the wall. We see a headless corpse lying in a pool of blood. A growling dog stands by the body and has the corpse’s head in its mouth.

Margot starts to believe Robert is stalking her after she rejects him. His text messages become increasingly hostile, and he messages ‘whore’ after she doesn’t respond. We see him waiting outside her workplace and she feels she’s being watched and followed.

The themes of female agency, power dynamics between men and women – including age differences in a relationship – and the challenges of dating in the digital age play out in ways that are designed to make the viewer uncomfortable. This discomfort can be a good conversation starter with young people (16 and older) if you’re watching together.

Helplines

If you or someone you know needs to talk:

  • Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • Lifeline

Further information

Why are ratings and content warnings important for me and my whānau?

Talking with young people about what they’re watching

Cat Person’ and Me (Slate)

‘Cat Person’ the movie will totally change how you think about ‘Cat Person’ the story (Cosmopolitan)

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