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Poor Things is far from a Poor Film

Yorgos Lanthimos Latest film is an epic of Odyssean proportions

By Josey PickeringPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - December 2023
Emma Stone stuns in Poor Things

Poor Things is the latest film from Yorgos Lanthimos, who previously brought us such films as the shocking and feral Dogtooth, the power play of the Favourite and the twisted & at times terrifying Killing of a Sacred Deer. Lantimos returns with an entirely new vision, something almost familiar and yet fresh and unseen. A Victorian tapestry splattered with a vibrant colorful steampunk layer.

Poor Things is melting pot of many films of the past, whilst also carving out a corner for itself. There's elements of it that are very Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, whilst also being part Wizard of Oz. There are even traces of Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It even in ways could even be compared to Bertolucci's film The Dreamers. Take these films, and put them into a blender and you get the colorful chaos of Poor Things, but only if you add the wonderfully weird wistful whimsy that makes this film stand out on it's own.

Written for the screen by Tony McNamara, Poor Things story comes from the 1991 novel of the same title by Alasdair Gray. It is the story of Bella Baxter. She's a woman of a simple mind with strangely delayed motor skills, shrouded in mystery. Not unlike Frankenstein’s monster, she is lashed with scars and stitches in a world that is strange and new. She is curious and naive, but eager to receive knowledge even if her body takes a moment to catch up. Her curiously takes her around the world and through sexual conquests that further awaken her. It isn’t just her sexual conquests that contribute to her growth, but the connections she makes with other humans through experiences and conversation. Everything is new and exhilarating for Bella, until it’s not and she has to learn to find herself once again.

Emma Stone absolutely shines as Bella. She becomes her as she peels back every layer, as Bella branches herself out further in the tree of life. Every discovery is another layer torn off until we get to the raw truths of who she was and who she is. Everyone she encounters further cements her knowledge of the vast world around her. It’s not just in the transition from black and white and color that is reminiscent of Wizard of Oz, but also in her paramours. Mark Ruffalo’s Duncan could be her Scarecrow, Ramy Youseff’s McCandles her Cowardly Lion and her Tin Man is Jerrod Carmichael’s Harry. Willem Dafoe’s Godwin, or “God,” is both Dr. Frankenstein and The Wizard. Even the dastardly Alfie played by Christopher Abbott could be considered her wicked witch. In that case, Suzy Bemba’s Toinette could be her Glinda the Good Witch. Her heroes journey is much like Dorothy’s, only the world isn’t just a dream, but an extension of her reality that was hidden from her. Much like Dorothy, too, we see throughout her growth that the meager education “God” started her with are Bella’s Ruby Red slippers, the tools that carry her through both her growth and her arc.

Poor Things is currently playing in select theaters before a wide release on December 22nd. I highly recommend seeing this film on the big screen if it’s accessible to you. I ended up chosing a Dolby theater to see it in and have no regrets whatsoever. The vivid colors and detailed backdrops really shined and I was able to absorb so many little details. I can see myself catching it a few more times in cinemas!

Poor Things is Rated R for strong and pervasive sexual content, graphic nudity, disturbing material, gore, and language.


About the Creator

Josey Pickering

Autistic, non-binary, queer horror nerd with a lot to say.

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Comments (7)

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  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    Yeah, I'm going to keep watching his work, and this looks brilliant!

  • K. Kocheryan2 months ago

    I've been wanting to see this. Thanks for the review!

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    Great review, very insightful. I don't know if we have it in Aus yet, but I'll keep an eye out.

  • Lana V Lynx2 months ago

    Great review, although I still don’t know if I should see the movie.

  • Melissa Ingoldsby2 months ago

    I REALLY NEED To see this!!! Great review I appreciate your fervor for the unique

  • Jackie Teeple2 months ago

    Amen! Anyone who reduces it to just her sexual liberation is missing the point entirely. It’s merely a facet on the diamond that is Bella Baxter!!!

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