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Norwegian Wood [2011] [NR] - 8.4.5



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Based on the Japanese novel by Haruki Murakami and set in 1960s Japan: a college student (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) recalls his life after his best friend (Kengo Kora) killed himself when they were teens. As he begins to grow close to his friend's former girlfriend (Rinko Kikuchi) he struggles with his feelings for another young woman. Also with Kiko Mizuhara and Tetsuji Tamayama. Directed by Anh Hung Tran. In Japanese with English subtitles. [2:13]

SEX/NUDITY 8 - We see a young woman (it is implied that she is fully nude but only her bare shoulders are visible) as a young man undresses and we see his bare chest, the young man and the young woman kiss passionately, they have sex with the young man on top of the young woman, she moans as he thrusts once, and he is then shown thrusting while they continue to kiss passionately; the young man asks if it was her first time and he later asks the young woman if she had had sex with another young man.
 We see a young man and a young woman engaged in sex: the young man is shown on top of the young woman, he is seen thrusting, we hear sexual panting and moaning, the young woman stops the young man, and he collapses on top of her; we later see the young man and the young woman dressing (the young woman is fully dressed and the young man is shown wearing boxer-style underwear and a shirt).
 A woman asks a young man to sleep with her, she tells the young man that she is going to take a shower, and we see the woman in the shower (no nudity is visible); she leaves the bathroom wearing a nightgown and the young man asks if she is serious, and moments later we see the woman and the young man having sex with the young man panting and moaning while he is on top of the woman (no nudity is visible and no thrusting is seen but sex is implied and we later see that the young man is shirtless).
 A fully clothed young woman awakens a young man, she kisses him, the young woman straddles him and pushes up his shirt; sex is implied to be happening but no thrusting is noticeable as they kiss passionately and the young woman pulls away and stands up (no nudity is visible).
 A young woman asks a young man crudely if he is sexually aroused, the young man says yes and the young woman offers to relieve him using her hands; we see the young man and the young woman from the waist-up, the young man closes his eyes and makes a remark about the young woman "being good" (no nudity is visible but manual stimulation is implied).
 A young woman with a blanket over her (her bare back is visible) rolls over in bed and a young man wearing brief-style underwear sits on the end of the bed (sex is implied). We see a young man, shirtless (his bare chest is visible), sitting on a bed next to a young woman and sex is implied.
 A young man comforts a young woman, he holds her and they kiss passionately, reclining onto the ground with the young man getting on top of the young woman as they continue to kiss. A young man and a young woman are seen kissing passionately while lying on the ground. A young man and a young woman kiss on multiple occasions. A young woman rubs her face against a young man's face. A young man holds a young woman's head in his hands and she pulls away moments later. A young woman asks a young man to hug her and they hug. A young woman leans against a young man and he wraps his hands around her. A young woman leans against a young man standing by a tree and she holds his hand. A young woman and a young man run to one another and they hug tightly. In a swimming pool a teen boy and a teen girl hug.
 A teen boy and a teen girl share a Popsicle from the teen boy's mouth to the teen girl's mouth and their lips almost meet.
 During a phone conversation, a young woman asks a young man to take her to a pornographic movie, saying that she wants to go to the "most perverse" one, and the young man agrees. A young man and a young woman discuss how the young man had previously asked the young woman why she had not slept with her previous boyfriend; the young woman explains that she had wanted to sleep with her past boyfriend and graphically describes how they had attempted sex but she could not physically have sex and she goes on to explain that she had sexually gratified him using her lips (she seems uncomfortable). A woman asks a young woman what she and a young man were doing in the woods, saying that the young woman had come back "completely nude"; the young woman explains that they had attempted to have sex and graphically describes that she was physically unable to have sex with the young man. A young man asks a man if he had sex with hundreds of girls, and the man confirms, saying he had sex with over 70 different women. A young man's narration explains that a woman understands that her boyfriend sleeps with other women. A man explains to a woman, as a young man listens, that the young man is attracted to a young woman who only has sex with the young man as "just sex." A young man explains to a woman that he feels like sometimes he needs to have sex. A young woman crudely tells a young man that a young man would come to visit her in order to have sex, but the young woman said they had not been able to have sex because she was on her period and that they were "about to burst." A young woman describes to a young man how she would like the young man to take her to bed and undress her; the young woman explains that she had a dream where the young man was undressing her and had a visible erection. A young woman tells a young man that she was "wound up" when she saw a young man sexually excited to "rip off" her clothing. A young woman asks a young man if young men in his dorm masturbate, the young man says they are too busy to masturbate and the young woman teasingly asks the young man if he thinks about her in a sexual manner. A young woman asks a young man if he would still be interested in her if she was unable to become sexually aroused and the young man tells the young woman that he is optimistic. During a dinner with a man, his girlfriend and a young man, the man makes a crude remark about the young man and a date having sex and makes a crude remark about the young man and his date "swapping" with the man and woman, explaining that he and the young man had previously "swapped partners"; the woman asks the young man to explain and he says that he and the man had met two women in a bar and then halfway through their night of sleeping with the women, they swapped. A young woman tells a young man that she had not had sex in six years. A woman implies to a man that a young woman had a sexual dream. A young woman asks a young man if he had slept with a different young woman and he says that they had slept together once, a year ago. A young woman tells a young man that she had kissed her first boyfriend when they were in the third grade. A young woman tells a young man that when she had gotten her menstrual period she had gone to a young man for comfort. A young woman tells a young man that when they hug, she wants the young man to hug "only her." A young woman jokes with a young man, saying that they would make attractive children. Two young men tease one another; one young man says it is "cute" how the other young man gave him a peach.
 A shirtless young man stares at a sleeping young woman. We see a shirtless young man. A young man discovers his roommate shirtless as he sleeps. We see multiple teen boys and girls in a swimming pool (the girls are wearing one-piece bathing suits and the boys are shirtless). We see a young man in a swimming pool with other people and his bare chest is visible. A young man and a young woman are seen in a swimming pool; the young man is wearing short trunks and the young woman wears a one-piece suit. On multiple occasions a young man is seen wearing boxer-style underwear and a tank top.

VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - We see a teen boy taping a hose inside a car with the windows closed, he revs the engine and coughs as exhaust pours out of the hose and fills the car; the boy climbs into the back of the car, we see the car filled with exhaust and hear the boy coughing and it is implied that he is overcome and dies moments later.
 We see the feet of a young woman hanging from a tree and a young man's narration explains that a young woman had died (presumably by suicide). A young man is seen weeping and screaming in response to the young woman's death. We see an urn on a desk as a narrator explains that a teen boy had died. A young man narrates, as we see a close-up of a woman, that the woman had "opened the veins on her wrist" and killed herself.
 A young man holds his hand, blood drips from his hand and we see broken glass on the ground; a man helps the young man, handing him a towel and we see a bandage on his palm later. A young man cuts open a healing cut on his palm, he makes a fist and we see a small amount of blood drip from his clenched fist.
 A young woman screams and strikes a young man repeatedly, and the young man holds her hands back and pins her against a bed; the young man then holds the young woman in his arms. A young woman screams and cries and she runs away from a young man, stumbling slightly; the young man grabs her and comforts her as she struggles to walk. A young woman cries and holds her chest as a young man watches, and comforts her. A young woman is visibly upset, she cries and a woman comforts her.
 We see a man on a hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling; a young woman identifies the man to a young man as her father.
 A young woman tells a young man that her mother had died in a car accident; she remarks that it would have been easier if both her parents had died. A young woman tells a young man that she was upset after the death of her mother. A young woman tells a young man that her father had died; we had seen her ill father in the hospital earlier. A young man's narration explains that he is "further from his corpses" every year, explaining that his dead friends are forever stuck in their age at their deaths. A young woman's voiceover is heard as a young man reads a note; the young woman explains that she is going to a sanatorium after trying to hurt herself and for the young man to not blame himself, as he did not hurt her. A man tells a young man that Greek tragedies are more impossible than foreign wars. A young man tells a man that university students are protesting for the end of the Vietnam War. A woman tells a young man that she will be "guarding" the young man as he spends time with a young woman. A young man asks a woman why she is "killing herself" in a relationship with a man.
 A woman's voice narrates as we see a young woman lying on the ground, the woman explains that a young woman had begun to "hear voices" again, was becoming hard to control and could not be left alone; we see the young woman hallucinating as she wanders through the snow and a woman chases her.
 A young man walks away from a crowd of people protesting, shouting and carrying banners and wooden poles as they crowd the streets. Many men, women and teenagers fill a street and we see them shouting and rushing away.

PROFANITY 5 - About 5 F-words and its derivatives, 5 sexual references, 1 scatological term, 1 anatomical term, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (degenerates, pervert, stupid, blockhead dog with no feelings, completely insane, Yankee, horrible, poor, fool, enemy of the people). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - We see a poured glass of whiskey in front of a man, a young man and a young woman toast with wine, and a young man and a young woman drink at a bar. On multiple occasions we see men smoking, a young woman smokes cigarettes, we see a woman smoking on multiple occasions, and a young woman explains that a woman smokes constantly and no longer eats.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Suicide, unrequited love, 1960s Japan, depression, sanatoriums, tragedy, grief.

MESSAGE - Coping with loss is difficult. Life can be very complicated.

Special Keywords: S8 - V4 - P5 - MPAANR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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