Kinds of Kindness

NZ release: 11 July 2024

Bloody violence, sex scenes, rape, suicide & content that may disturb Rated on: 30 May 2024

Kinds of kindness

What’s it about?

A black comedy by director Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things). In three distinct but loosely connected stories: A man tries to take control of his own life; a policeman is alarmed that his wife who was missing at sea has returned a different person; and a woman is determined to find a specific person with a special ability to resurrect the dead.

The facts

  • Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster)
  • English language
  • Runtime: 164 minutes
  • Starring Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley
  • The film's three stories are titled "The Death of R.M.F.," "R.M.F. Is Flying" and "R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich".

Why did it get this rating?

This film was classified by Te Mana Whakaatu - Classification Office. You can find out more about classification process and ratings here.

The overarching theme of cruelty and kindness is portrayed through the three stories with a mixture of cruel actions and intentions.

Bloody violence

We see a car crash victim dumped on the ground and driven over several times. We see this scene play out without the camera looking away. We see the victim’s body unresponsive on the ground and we see blood seeping from his torso after being driven over multiple times.

A policeman becomes aggressive with a driver and their passenger that have been pulled over for a minor traffic violation. He shoots one of them in the hand and then starts licking the man’s bloody hand wound, which is sudden, unexpected and shocking.

In a domestic setting a character asks his wife to chop off her own finger and cook it for him. She obliges and we see her take a kitchen knife to her digit. Body movements and the sound effects make it clear she’s following through and we see a close-up as she severs her thumb.

Viewers who have been impacted by domestic violence may find the following storyline upsetting.

A character tells her husband she’s pregnant and he asks her to move out. In a subsequent scene he tells his therapist that he saw his wife punching herself in the face and belly. We then see the battered and bruised wife at the doctors defending her husband after she has miscarried. It’s unclear if she has actually harmed herself or if he has harmed her, and this is not shown.

We see a close-up of a car crash victim’s bloody facial wounds.

We see the same character steal and use a tranquiliser pen on another character so that she can kidnap them, and strip them down to their underwear so she can inspect, measure and weigh them for a secret cult mission.

Sex scenes

We briefly see home video footage of an orgy. We can see all of the characters are naked, having sex in various positions, and there’s loud moaning sounds. The scene is brief, and part of the footage is seen on a television screen from some distance.

We briefly see a woman masturbating through her clothing in a black and white flashback.

A woman playful suggests to her husband that they “f*ck”. She whacks his bottom with his police baton and pretends to suck on the stick. He’s shocked and denies her advances.

In a cult setting it is clear that the spiritual leaders have scheduled sex with their followers. We see a young woman in underwear lying on the ceremonial sex bed, she’s groggy and appears to have been drugged. She’s encouraged to leave the room even though she wants to please one of the cult leaders. We then see one of the leaders naked on the bed and ready for one of his followers to lie down next to him. We see an extended close up of them kissing, and sex is implied as the scene cuts to the room next door where muffled sex sounds can be heard.

Rape

We see a character spike their ex’s drink so that she becomes unconscious. He then removes her clothes down to her bra, and moves her body onto the couch so he can rape her. We see her head and shoulders and body movement during this scene implying that he is raping her. This is a brief but shocking scene. We then see the character wake the next morning in bed next to the rapist. She’s visibly upset as she frantically washes herself in the bath. She is returned to the cult and victim-blamed for the incident and labelled ‘contaminated’. This storyline could be upsetting for viewers who have been impacted by sexual assault.

Suicide and self-harm

In a black and white fantasy sequence where dogs have traded places with humans we see a dog hanging by a noose in a garage. [CW4] It is a brief but shocking image.

A wife’s efforts to please her husband by cutting off or removing some of her body parts is disturbing. These acts of self-harm result in her death.

A woman unsuspectingly falls into an empty pool. We don’t see the resulting injuries but it is implied that she is brought back from the dead or magically healed. In a later scene this same woman knowingly dives headfirst into the empty pool, seemingly to intentionally kill herself and fulfil a prophecy. We see her mangled body at the bottom of the pool, and the camera shows a close-up of her head with blood seeping out.

This storyline could be upsetting for viewers who have been impacted by suicide.

Animal cruelty

We see a character deliberately slice a dog’s leg with a pocketknife in order to get access to a vet.

As mentioned above, in a black and white fantasy sequence we see a dog hanging by a noose in a garage. It is a brief but shocking image.

Cruelty and content that may disturb

Cruel acts by a number of characters are shown through each of the films.

In the first film we see how a powerful man has manipulated his staff member so that his life depends on his approval and rewards. He goes to extreme lengths to win back his boss’ affection by crashing into another car, and killing a person by running over him with his car. We also learn that he has previously drugged his wife to cause her to miscarry and not have children. The miscarriages are shown through a black and white flashback of bloody toilet bowl. This may be shocking and upsetting for viewers who have been impacted by pregnancy loss.

A woman chops off her own thumb and removes her own liver, sacrificing her body parts and ultimately her life, at the request of her husband. These scenes are shocking and may be disturbing for viewers who have been impacted by domestic abuse.

A theme of cannibalism for survival is hinted at, and we briefly see a black and white flashback with a woman chewing on a severed limb.

We see examples of how cult leaders control their followers: women are put into a sauna to sweat out to be ‘decontaminated’. Both pass out from the heat and are then subjected to a ‘test’ that determines whether they stay in or are removed from the cult.

Offensive language

Strong language is used for emphasis, mostly using the “f” word. “Are the three of you f*cking?!” “Go f*ck yourself,” etc.

Youth Advisory Panel comments

We were grateful to have three members of our Youth Advisory Panel in attendance at the classification screening.

They noted there was a lot of content to discuss, especially cruelty, self-harming behaviour and bloody injury. Especially impactful scenes for them were the car crash victim being driven over, the policeman shooting the character in the hand and then licking the wound, the wife severing her own thumb and removing her liver, plus the animal cruelty, drug rape and empty pool suicide.

They felt the orgy sex scene, which is shown on a television screen, as quite intense and referred to it as “hardcore” and “pornographic”.

Helplines:

The themes of coercion and domestic abuse could be upsetting for some viewers, especially for those who have gone through similar experiences. If you are struggling with what you have seen on-screen please reach out for help. If you or someone you know needs to talk:

Further information

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