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Sex & Nudity

  • This film dramatizes life in the housing projects of 1990s Marseilles, focusing on the early and coercive sexualization of females, the enabling of sexual precociousness in males, early marriage, and high birth rates, with minor emphasis on sexual mixing between native French and the immigrant Africans. Whether this view of how poverty and hopelessness warp sexual mores is intended to be taken literally or as a satire of common perceptions is not made clear.
  • Sexualized situations and conversations are pervasive. Sexual assaults of girls and women are shown and portrayed as commonplace, as are male and female promiscuity and unfaithfulness. Fear of assault is said to be constant.
  • The environment is exemplified by a role-reversal conversation referring to past events: Victorine's mom threatens to "become a punk, get myself raped, and come to like it," and Victorine retorts I'll take dope, become an unwed mother, and "f*ck in front of my kids to freak them out." Victorine's father is implied to sleep around with other women, and has at least 10 kids, some of whom he doesn't recognize or know about.
  • Racial perceptions are mentioned a couple of times, but not examined in detail: A white French man urges a preteen boy of African descent to marry "a real white French girl with big boobs" when he grows up, and give her a baby. Another man, asked why he has so many kids, says "Immigrants don't take precautions. I'm out of work and I screw." Reminded that he's French and white, he insists "I'm Muhammed from Algeria. I f*ck you! I f*ck your mom!"
  • We see clothed breasts fondled several times; coitus is shown a couple of times, but very briefly. Nudity is limited to an extended frontal view of one woman's breasts and a few fleeting side glimpses of another's, plus one scene where breasts are shown but the nipples covered by hands. Girls and women are seen in bras and panties occasionally, and boys and men without shirts.

Violence & Gore

  • Girls and women are groped and coerced into sexual activity; see Sex & Nudity.
  • A boy joyriding in a stolen police car is shot from a distance; we see some blood on the armpit of his shirt.
  • A young boy says that people shoot at him when he robs their homes.
  • A man robbing a home is shot in the back at close range; no blood is shown.
  • A woman opens the door of her home at night and shoots into the air to drive away someone seeking emergency medical assistance.
  • A man dies of a heart attack; he isn't shown suffering.
  • People engage in mild scuffles.
  • A woman breaks glassware in a bar and threatens to burn it down.
  • In an act of revenge, the home of a man dying of cancer is burned down while he is in it. Once the flames start, we only see this from outside.


  • As English subtitled, "fuck" is used a few times though not usually sexually, and "goddammit" once. (In French I could only make out "merde".) Occasionally vulgar name-calling or sexual terms are heard, (e.g. "chicken-shit assholes", "Go eat pussy!", "Snatchie", "bastard", "cock", "tits 'n ass", "hard-on"), but it's not pervasive.

Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

  • A main character is an alcoholic. He is frequently shown drunk in bars and other locations, and this causes him problems with everyday tasks. He doesn't always recognize his own kids, and doesn't know how many he has.
  • Several people smoke cigarettes a few times, including a couple of main characters.
  • No other drugs.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • Although sexual assault and homicide are central to the story, the surreal presentation -- characters expositing to the camera, flashbacks, fantasy sequences, and active participation by dead people -- reduces the visceral impact and keeps this film from being seriously frightening. Viewers may be (and are probably intended to be) more distressed by the overall social and economic environment this film portrays.
  • A couple of dead characters return intermittently for extended conversations and some physical interactions with the living, but these are not frightening scenes.
  • Apparently suffering from some form of mental illness, the main character's mother behaves bizarrely at times, for example taking her daughter's place at school one day.


The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.

Sex & Nudity

  • An unconscious teen who was shot is taken by his gang to a woman of African descent who later is implied to have been fooling around with a married man. She removes her blouse and lies down in bed. Her breasts are visible for a while as the unconscious and now shirtless teen lies on top of her. She undulates her hips and caresses him and this somehow heals him. As the guys leave, he asks the woman if he can come back to see her, and she agrees; another guy also asks if he can see her.
  • While playing a game of 1-2-3-Sun (the literal title translation; evil can only approach in the dark), a group of teen boys surround 12-year-old Victorine (30-year-old Anouk Grinberg) and fondle her chest over her clothes, noting that soon she'll need a bra. She shows her breasts (not seen) to a 19-year-old, who touches them; she asks him to be her first lover, but he takes her to his buddies, who intimidate her, ask her what she does sexually, and guide her into the back seat of a car. Her attempt to get away fails. We see her riding one in coitus while the others watch. Victorine is seen in panties, but no nudity is shown. Similarly, a teacher is surrounded at her car by male students who say they've been dying to check her out since they were kids. They press against her until she agrees to have sex. A woman hurries toward the scene, saying she wants to watch "the rape." Later we see that attempting to flee triggers a stronger predatory response, and the teacher is tackled to the ground.
  • As an older teen, Victorine does have one loving, monogamous relationship. But after Paulie dies, she seeks casual sex with the men who first had her. She is rejected, and is told that her only options at this age are to become a prostitute or to marry the first jerk who's dumb enough to want her. She enters a marriage with Maurice that is initially loveless, and has five sons by age 25.
  • Young boys are affected by the sexualized atmosphere and crowded conditions: Victorine as a teen shares a bed with several young preteen brothers. When she arrives home looking sad and undresses to bra and panties, they discuss whether she "got laid"; in another scene they mention that she and they comfort each other when they're sad.
  • In a dystopic fantasy, 7-year-old students (played by older teens/adults) surround their teacher, remove her blouse, grope her (over bra), and one engages in brief coitus.
  • Another scene apparently addresses both sexual precociousness and, symbolically, marital infidelity. When Victorine is 25 and married, a group of unfamiliar (actual, young) preteen boys show up and ask for her, saying a bunch of guys said she's "very nice." As her (living) husband Maurice and mother and (dead) father watch, she invites them to bed, undressing to bra and panties and helping the boys take off their pajama shirts. They lie down together, two of the boys squeezing her breasts (over her bra). Victorine's mom explains (?) that kids need a change of mom now and then. So Victorine's young boys decide to change moms too, suggesting a woman who they say has "big tits." They leave saying this will be a lot of fun. The new boys ask Victorine if they can take her bra off. She agrees and turns face down on the bed, and they unhook it. After a brief squabble between Maurice and newly arrived (dead) first love Paulie, we see the bed again. Victorine is face up; two of the boys' hands passively cover the center of her bare breasts, and she asks her (dead) father to tell her (living) husband that she loves him. One analyst proposes this scene as the reason this Bertrand Blier film wasn't submitted to the BBFC for a U.K. rating.

Violence & Gore

  • In a fantasy sequence, Victorine throws her mother off a bridge.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • A scene of Victorine pleading to be adopted, saying she needs affection, is very sad.

See also

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