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954 Ratings


Directed by Todd Haynes
United States, 1991
Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi


With his first feature, Todd Haynes took his influence from the patron saint of all queer outlaw art, Jean Genet. The result was a trio of intercut, stylistically distinct stories drawn together by their conceptual rigor and openly-gay themes—“Hero,” “Horror,” and “Homo”.

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Poison Directed by Todd Haynes

Awards & Festivals

Berlin International Film Festival

1991 | Winner: Teddy: Best Feature Film

Sundance Film Festival

1991 | Winner: Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic Competition)

Independent Spirit Awards

1992 | 2 nominations including: Best First Feature

This is not just a gay film, nor a great film that just happens to be gay. As [B. Ruby] Rich writes, the “queer present negotiates with the past, knowing full well that the future is at stake”. At the heart of Poison – alongside the other pioneering films of New Queer Cinema– is a conscious temporal attempt to confront the abusive history of queer as a category of shame, and to move it in a completely different direction. Haynes’ film is therefore a significant entry in the history of cinema.
March 01, 2015
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Haynes interweaves the three stories for poetic rather than thematic effect, imbuing the somewhat clinical compositions (the greatest weakness of all his film) with a rich, associative imagination. The director’s Bowie-like ability to mimic various genres rarely seemed more purposeful than it does here: at its most direct, POISON evokes like few other films what it’s like to never feel at home in one’s own skin.
June 17, 2011
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Comfort was what Haynes wanted to snatch away from us. In both form and subject, "Poison’’ still feels defiant. It’s the work of a young filmmaker who looked at the world around him, saw the American government’s silence about the AIDS crisis and the void of visible gay people in the culture and came up with this charged allegory for that moment.
January 07, 2011
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