Emma Stone, the lead of Oscar-nominated Poor Things, has responded to accusations that the film is “sexist” and “exploitative” and that there are “disturbing” consent issues in the sex scenes.
The 35-year-old actress was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Bella, a young woman in Victorian London who is resurrected by a scientist (Willem Dafoe) after her suicide in Yorgos Lanthimos’ film.
In the movie, Bella, who has the brain of an unborn baby implanted in her head, embarks on a journey of sexual discovery in which she experiences pleasure in her adult body and her first orgasm.
The film’s themes have provoked strong reactions, with some claiming that the fact that the movie has a male director and therefore a male gaze makes it sexist. There are also accusations that the nudity is exploitative and that Bella has consent issues because she has the brain of a child.
“If it helps, as the person who acted and produced it, I never saw him as a child in any of those scenes,” Stone told The Times.
“But even that is too realistic,” Lanthimos added.
If you take a movie straight on, if you start discussing it in terms of a child’s brain, then you are missing the point of storytelling in general. If you start analyzing the movie as something that can actually happen, then of course the movie is useless.
Stone said that criticizing The Losers is a result of how people consume movies these days and how they judge them on social media.
My mother has a saying, at the beginning of a relationship you say, ‘We are so in love that we finish each other’s sentences’.
Then as time goes by, it turns into ‘You always interrupt me’. This can also happen in a relationship with a movie, especially in a movie like this, which asks more questions than it answers.
I know people who saw the movie and thought it was the sweetest romantic comedy, and I know people who had to cover their eyes with their hands and watch it. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Clarisse Loughrey, who gave the film 4 stars in her review for The Independent, praised Stone’s “brave” performance but wrote
Parts of the movie are disturbingly voyeuristic. For example, Lanthimos takes fetishistic pleasure in showing Bella servicing various old, hairy and smelly clients after she starts working in a brothel in Paris.
Despite the ironic humor with which these scenes are treated, Bella is still often the object of the lecherous male gaze.