Poor Things review by Bobby Blakey
Director Yorgos Lanthimos always brings a unique vision to his films such as Killing of the Sacred Deer and my personal favorite The Lobster. His latest film Poor Things looks to continue this artistic expression and features a great cast including Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley and Ramy Youseff. Could this film bring yet another bizarre brilliance to his filmography or will it fail to rise from the grave to success?
Poor Things follows the incredible tale and fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter. Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn, a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, Bella grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.
I knew of some of the controversy surrounding this flick and Emma Stone’s performance, but beyond that knew very little about the film. As mentioned, I loved The Lobster and enjoyed Killing of the Sacred Deer so kind of knew the kind of film I might be stepping into, but what I didn’t expect was to be something so out the in the best way possible. There is an overall vibe here that could be compared to numerous other filmmakers, but it is so unique I want to just say it screams Lanthimos all around.
This is one of those films that some might not be willing to stick with due to its sheer strangeness as well as the amount of nudity and sex throughout. While it might come across as something that is bizarre and gratuitous, it is a compelling story about a woman’s empowerment to discover herself and the world around her. It’s not some sort of forced agenda either, but instead just
operates in its own space and does whatever it wants no matter how strange it might be to further the story and its impact. It is often way over the top in its execution and direction, but I felt it necessary to convey the story at hand. It’s a shocking film sometimes in a way that you might not expect, but not with things that are disturbing or anything you haven’t seen in some form or another.
The entire cast is outstanding with Emma Stone fully embracing this role and its needs both physically and emotionally. She gives a full body performance from the unexpected nudity, the way she walks and moves and dialogue delivery that is light, deep and fun to watch at every moment and a fully exposed execution. Dafoe brings his usual perfection to the role that is reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein in both science and look. His passion for his experience and for her shines through in all its bizarre nature.
While Emma Stone is amazing here, I have to say that my personal favorite in the film is Mark Ruffalo. His performance is just ridiculous in every way and so much fun to watch. He is bringing a period style performance complete with old Hollywood wrapped up into a buffoon that I could not stop enjoying. Like everyone here he is all in and outstanding in every scene, especially in the last act of the film when his emotions take hold.
This film is engaging and interesting enough with just the story but made all the more so with its visual style and settings. A mix of a period piece, real life and surreal fantasy it stands all its own as a piece of brilliant filmmaking that I truly hope not only finds the audience it deserves, but the recognition during award season as well.
Poor Things is in theaters now in limited release and will expand to a wide release on December 22nd.