Emma Stone has responded to criticism that Poor Things is ‘exploitative’ and ‘sexist.’

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and based on Alasdair Gray’s 1993 novel, the film sees Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) transplant the brain of an unborn baby into the head of its mother, who has died by suicide.

Stone stars as the ‘newborn’ Bella Baxter, who, as her brain develops at a fast pace, embarks on a zealous journey of sexual awakening.

Searchlight Pictures

Despite earning rave reviews from critics, the film has faced backlash, with some questioning the exploitative nature of the film’s nudity and sex scenes and what they view as ‘troubling consent issues’ given that Bella has the brain of a child.

Speaking to The Times about the backlash, Stone said: ‘If it helps, as the person who played it and produced it, I didn’t see her as a child in any of those scenes.’

‘But even that’s too literal,’ added director Lanthimos. ‘If you take a film that literally, where you start discussing it in terms of the brain of a child, then you’re kind of missing the point of storytelling in general. If you start to analyze the film as something that would actually happen, then of course the film doesn’t work.’

Searchlight Pictures

On how people consume movies and the role of social media in casting judgement, Stone said: ‘My mum has this saying that at the start of a relationship you say, ‘Oh we’re so in love we finish each other’s sentences.’ And then, as time goes by, it becomes, ‘You’re always interrupting me.’ That can happen in a relationship with film, too, especially a film like this, that’s asking more questions than giving answers.’

‘I know people who’ve seen the film and think it’s just the sweetest romantic comedy, and others who had to watch it through their fingers. And that’s great,’ she added.

Poor Things is out now in cinemas.

This article originally appeared on ELLE UK.