Poor Things

NZ release: 01 January 2024

Body horror, sex scenes, nudity, and offensive language Rated on: 29 November 2023

Poor Things

What’s it about?

A dark comedy fantasy film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos that follows a young Victorian woman, Bella Baxter played by Emma Stone. Following her suicide, she is crudely resurrected by scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter, who becomes her guardian. Bella runs off with a debauched lawyer and unscrupulous cad (Mark Ruffalo) to embark on an odyssey of self-discovery and sexual liberation.

The facts

  • Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Favourite)
  • Starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe
  • English language
  • Runtime: 141 minutes
  • Based on the 1992 novel by Alasdair Gray
  • 2024 Oscar Nominee

Why did it get this rating?


Although the film contains suicide, it is not graphic or extensive. We do not see it fully happen, only leading up to it. This can still be disturbing for some viewers who have been impacted by suicide.

Body horror

We see various wound details, gore, and body horror. For example, a character repeatedly stabs a corpse’s eyes with a pair of surgical scissors, and a brain is removed from an open skull and replaced with another. Other types of gore that are shown include a close-up of a bullet being removed from a foot, and a character cutting into a character's abdomen to reveal a bloody tumour. This can be shocking and disturbing for some viewers.

Sex scenes, sexual references, and nudity

The film contains extensive and frequent sexual scenes. Scenes of masturbation is shown, and sex scenes often involve full frontal male and female nudity. The strongest sex scene in the film is a character’s work as a prostitute. We see rear-entry intercourse, bondage and a man bringing their children to observe and learn how to have sex.

The sexual references are blunt but are often humorous.


A character’s experiments on animals and humans is very cruel - they show no remorse or consider it unkind.


Violence throughout the film is often shown as humorous scuffles and punches with limited or no injury.

Offensive language

Highly offensive language includes ‘f*ck’, ‘c*nt’,'sh*t’, and ‘a*s’. Much of the language has a humorous tone.

A character is called a “wh*re” when she becomes a sex worker.


If you or someone you know needs to talk:

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


Further information

Three members of the Youth Advisory Panel attended the screening and noted that the film is ‘surreal’ but that the sex is the most real and relatable element. The suicide depicted and mentioned in the story is also strong because the film opens with it. The depiction could be upsetting for someone impacted by suicide.

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