“Poor Things” is a technically stunning film that cinephiles will understandably love for its ability to deconstruct the human condition.
For the average movie-goer however it is a challenging and uncomfortable experience that forces the viewers to confront their own degree of morality and empathy while sitting through feelings of discomfort.
The experience of enjoyment that one may have while watching the film is one that is on a spectrum and will only be decided by the individual after they watch the film.
From filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos and producer Emma Stone comes the incredible tale and fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe).
Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), 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.
The film explores various themes including sexuality, liberation, political and social issues, as well as a look back at the return to a child-like wonder of the world.
It draws one back to purity, to something that hasn’t been tarnished and reminds audiences of who they used to be and a yearning to try and regain that innocence.
The film is stunning from its visual language and production design, to the nuance in performances where the actors are de-constructing and articulating the narrative with not only their words but actions as well.
While many others have drawn comparisons between the character arc of Bella Baxter to that of Barbie in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie, the film, in my perspective is more akin to that of Frankenstein’s monster.
Besides the obvious connection in which Stone’s character is brought back to life, Lanthimos fractions the film’s narrative into sections, with each part showcasing how Bella Baxter picks up and internalises a trait of the men she comes across.
Baxter becomes a monster made of the various good and bad traits of the men she comes across, but internalises it to find her own identity.
While the start of the film shows us the victim she was, by the end of the film, she becomes just as monstrous as the men surrounding her, but more deadly because her beauty obscures her true inner darkness.
Much credit has to be given to not only Stone for a fearless performance, but also for the subtleties used to pull this off.
Lanthimos does a brilliant job in obscuring one’s initial understanding of the darkness that lives within Baxter because the film positions Stone’s character in places that would normally elicit sympathy from.
Without attempting to give too much away, it is important to note that the film does contain a lot of sex scenes. All with intent and in service of the movie, but audiences who may find such scenes uncomfortable should be informed of such.
The film also doesn’t shy away from eliciting conflicting emotional responses in its viewers, which could get away from the director had he not had such an expert understanding of the tone of the film that he is making.
There is furthermore a plethora of things one can examine about the film as it is quite dense, and has a large scope that is thoroughly excavated within its 2 hours and 21minutes runtime.
The actors all play their parts with full understanding of the story they are servicing.
"Poor Things" is truly a visually stunning, albeit uncomfortable and proudly weird film. It sits with you after it’s finished, but it is a truly singular movie-going experience.
If you know your movie taste well-enough to know that cerebral films are not your forté, then it is best to skip it, but if you are craving a film that will challenge yet enthral you, then “Poor Things” is a must.
“Poor Things” is now on show at cinemas nationwide.