Summary

"Poor Things" is a visually stunning, emotionally rich film that combines Lanthimos' unique vision with exceptional performances.

Poor Things – Review

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” is a cinematic kaleidoscope that blends bizarre elements with the eternal quest for human connection. The film, set against the backdrop of Victorian London, showcases Lanthimos’ penchant for juxtaposing extreme behavior with refined settings, a theme evident in his previous works like “Dogtooth” and “The Favourite.”

At the heart of “Poor Things” is the story of Bella Baxter, portrayed with remarkable versatility by Emma Stone. Bella’s journey is both familiar and strikingly unique: a young woman’s quest for identity and enlightenment. However, the way Lanthimos and Stone bring this tale to life is anything but typical. The film is a blend of eccentric performances, peculiar dialogue, and meticulously designed sets and costumes, creating an experience that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

Bella’s world is a tasteful townhouse where she resides with Dr. Godwin Baxter, played by Willem Dafoe. Dafoe’s portrayal of the scarred scientist is both gentle and intriguing, adding depth to the father-figure role. The film reveals Bella’s backstory gradually, maintaining a sense of mystery that keeps the audience engaged. This narrative technique, withholding details to build intrigue, is a testament to Lanthimos’ skillful direction.

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The story progresses as Bella encounters various men who seek to shape her evolution. Notably, Ramy Youssef’s character, Max McCandles, brings a warmth and rationality to the otherwise chaotic setting. Mark Ruffalo, portraying the cad Duncan Wedderburn, delivers a performance that is both amusing and revealing, adding another layer to Bella’s journey towards self-discovery.

Stone’s performance is the cornerstone of “Poor Things.” She navigates the demanding role with precision and energy, transforming from a childlike figure into a self-assured, sexually liberated woman. Her performance is both technically impressive and emotionally resonant, earning the audience’s empathy even when her character displays brattish behavior.

Supporting performances, including those by Jerrod Carmichael and Hanna Schygulla, enrich the narrative. Each character, no matter how brief their appearance, contributes to the film’s exploration of Bella’s quest for self-possession. Kathryn Hunter’s role as a Paris madame stands out, providing both humor and depth to the story.

Tony McNamara’s screenplay, adapting Alasdair Gray’s novel, is another highlight of “Poor Things.” The dialogue evolves alongside Bella, becoming more intricate as she grows intellectually. McNamara’s script is not as biting as in “The Favourite,” but it maintains a distinctive wit that complements Lanthimos’ vision.

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Poor Things is visually stunning. Robbie Ryan’s cinematography transitions from grainy black and white to vibrant color, mirroring Bella’s personal growth. The use of varied textures and hues adds a magical quality to the film, especially during the ocean voyage scenes. This visual transformation, while conceptually straightforward, is executed with a finesse that feels almost magical.

The costume design by Holly Waddington and the production design by Shona Heath and James Price also deserve praise. Their work imaginatively reinvents historical settings, adding an outlandish touch that enhances the film’s surreal quality. From Godwin’s eccentric house to the opulent settings of Lisbon and Paris, each location contributes to the film’s vivid storytelling.

Ultimately, “Poor Things” is more than just a showcase of technical brilliance. It’s a compelling tale of a woman’s journey to find her place in the world. Bella’s character remains kind and optimistic, yet learns to assert herself when necessary. This blend of innocence and strength makes her journey not only relatable but also deeply inspiring.

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Wrapping Up

“Poor Things” is a visually stunning, emotionally rich film that combines Lanthimos’ unique vision with exceptional performances. It is a film that invites viewers into a world that is both familiar and wonderfully strange, leaving a lasting impression. For those interested in a cinematic experience that is both thought-provoking and entertaining, “Poor Things” is not to be missed.

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"Poor Things" is a visually stunning, emotionally rich film that combines Lanthimos' unique vision with exceptional performances.Poor Things - Review