The Emma Stone-led film Poor Things is about a Victorian woman who gets resurrected by a scientist after her suicide. By giving her the brain of an infant, she’s on a journey of self-discovery and sexual liberation as she learns about her body. Stone has reflected on people constantly bringing up the nude scenes she has in the Yorgos Lanthimos movie with an explanation of why they’re necessary.
If you take a look at the history of nudity in R-rated films, there tends to be controversy centered on them. Critics and audiences could watch those scenes and be offended, the MPAA ratings could be challenged, and the threat of cutting those scenes altogether. When Poor Things’ lead Emma Stone spoke on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, she explained that her sex scenes are a frequently brought-up topic among fans.
We had discussed this for so long and so much of this was about being true to Bella’s experience. I see sex… you know obviously because it’s more titillating or something, people do bring that aspect up a lot. And it obviously is a huge part of her experience and her growth, as it is for most people in life.
Even though the character of Bella Baxter is a grown woman, her having the mind of an infant and having a new lease on life in this full-grown body would be no different than what you would see in a coming-of-age film. But, like we said in CinemaBlend'sreview of Poor Things, the sexual content seen throughout the movie is not without purpose or there for shock value. As Bella discovers her sexual inhibition, these nude scenes exist in order to progress the lead character’s progression and growth.
While the sci-fi black comedy uses the themes of sexuality in order to dive into Bella’s journey of finding herself, the Golden Globe winner explained that there’s more than sex that drove her character’s growth.
I see it as just one aspect to her discovery: of food and philosophy and travel and dance. Sex is another aspect and one of the things we had talked about from very early on and I thought was extremely important. Bella is completely free and without shame about her body. She doesn’t know to be embarrassed about these things or cover things up.
Emma Stone makes a great point about her character. Audiences need to understand that since Bella hasn’t been in the world as long as an adult has, she wasn’t engrained with the societal expectations to hide her body. Bella, in general, wants to be open to every delicacy she sees in the world and refuses to hold back her desires. You could argue that Poor Things is the actress’s weirdest and most exciting movie for that reason. Its sex positivity is the tool that fuels Bella’s intellectual and emotional growth in its very unique setup.
If those sex scenes weren’t portrayed in the movie, the Easy A actress believed audiences would probably be missing out on an important aspect of the main character.
So, for the camera to sort of shy away from that or to say like, OK we’ll just cut all of this out because our society functions in a particular way. It felt in a way – you used the word disingenuous – but it felt like a lack of being honest about who Bella is. And what she feels. To me, I’m not a person that just wants to be naked all the time. But I am someone who wants to honor the characters as fully as I can. … who am I to say that should be shameful?
It’s no wonder that critics have raved about Emma Stone’s “hilarious” and “raunchy” performance breaking out of her comfort zone to play the part. All the more reason why the Crazy, Stupid, Love actress has the potential makings of a second Oscar for her role. Having to portray Bella’s physical and emotional changes throughout the movie couldn’t have been easy. But, I predict it was through the workings of her and Lanthimos’ frequent collaborations that made her performance look flawless.
But, these sex scenes didn’t make it into the film so easily. Yorgos Lanthimos had to fight for the unabashed nude scenes saying that people didn’t know how to respond to seeing a grown woman having sexual freedom with the brain of a child. Fortunately, The Favourite director refused to sanitize his film in order to stay true to his vision and Alasdair Gray’s who wrote the book it was based on. The Lobster director made an excellent argument about how “prudish” we can be on sexuality. As he explained, audiences tend to get easily offended by graphic sex scenes compared to on-screen violence. Maybe it takes more brave directors like Lanthimos to change the way sex is viewed in mainstream films.
Based on Emma Stone's accounts, the sex scenes in her movie Poor Things are necessary for the development of her character. This version of Frankenstein’s monster is on the verge of discovering the world around her as well as who she is on an emotional and physical level. If graphic nude scenes needed to be in the film for the purpose of telling Bella’s story, then it’s to be respected and understood. Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film is in theaters now. Check the 2024 movie release dates to plan your next movie.