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Review of Poor Things

I hated it

By Andrea Corwin Published 23 days ago 5 min read
Top Story - March 2024
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Review of Poor Things
Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

Did you watch Poor Things?

I saw the snippets online and on TV, and the scenes looked sumptuous.

Emma Stone is one of my favorite actors.

I watched Poor Things last night on HULU streaming. The first few minutes into it, I was glad my husband was outside; he would not have liked it at all.

The movie is set in the Victorian age, and Stone plays Bella Baxter. She is innocent and awkward in talk and movement, but why?

Here it comes, folks. She has the brain of a child. Dr. Baxter does medical experiments; sometimes Bella can do what she wishes on corpses too in his experimental lab.

Stone acts the heck out of her part. Her posture, walking, facial expressions, and speaking are spectacular when you realize she is Dr. Godwin Baxter’s experiment. He replaced her deceased brain with that of a fetus (and it is her unborn fetus he used!).

Stone's performance as Bella shows a woman trying to learn in a body that is disconnected from the brain. She has temper tantrums, is rude, spits out food, and hits people.

Baxter hires Max McCandless to document Bella’s progress. He sits and watches her all day and notes everything she does. He falls in love with her, and she agrees to marry him.

A shyster, Mr. Duncan Wedderburn, played expertly by Mark Ruffalo, convinces Bella to go away with him. She wants to experience the world before she settles down with her fiancé, who agrees to her trip.

Now, with the REAL adventures begin.

There are rough sex scenes, many of them. Crude talk comes out of Bella’s mouth, some describing sexual acts that she wants done or has experienced and wants more of. We see her transform into a woman with a mind and a strong will, much different from the tantrum child.

Wedderburn has trouble with Bella, so he purchases tickets on a steamship. Bella is trapped on this huge ship with him, giving him more power over her. Bella finds friendship in an older woman and the younger companion traveling with the woman. Wedderburn claims he loves Bella and wants to marry her, but she tells him she is engaged, which enrages him.

Bella is uninhibited in her quest for sex, allowing the director to showcase so many parts of Emma Stone, more than we see of her sexual partners (of course). If you ever wanted to see Emma Stone naked, this movie is your chance.

Emma is shown children in desolation and treated cruelly and decides to give Wedderburn’s gambling winnings to them (she is tricked by sailors who steal the money). Wedderburn is infuriated; the ship discovers he has no money to pay his debts, and they are thrown from the ship, destitute, at the next port.

Emma finds that she can make money as a prostitute and works for a madam of the town’s whore house. She surprises Wedderburn with money Dr. Baxter sewed into her dress and says she will buy him a ticket home. He takes all of the money and runs.

Emma continues as a sex worker but decides a better way is to be interested in the clients. She plays question games with them first and, if they have a bad odor, douses them with fragrance oils.

After her stint doing this, she goes home to her fiancé and the weird scientist Dr. Baxter. On his estate, strange creatures that are the result of his experiments on animals run around (visibly disturbing).

A man shows up.

Reader, can you guess who this is?

It is her husband from her previous life, and to make matters worse, Bella agrees to go with him.

She finds out quickly why she hated him before, causing her to commit suicide with a child almost ready to be born.

She overhears his conversation with a doctor about circumcising Bella. His desire is to take all of her sexual pleasure parts, so that she will be more amenable to being a good housewife and bearing his children.

The man is sorely mistaken - Bella is not his wife now and is not amenable to bearing children. She uses his drugs and his weapon on him and escapes home to Dr. Baxter and McCandless.

Dr. Baxter dies. It seems that now Bella is fully cognizant of who she is and is a mature and happy woman. We see her drinking on the patio with a friend from the whore house.

We hear goats bleating. Then we see her ex-husband crawling on the ground, bleating like a goat, eating the greenery. Justice! She knew enough surgery to change his brain.

pixabay

It seems the plot is a way to take a dead woman, put a baby’s brain into her, and raise her so that she belongs to you and will do as you please. Experiment on a person in a woman’s body, with a child’s emotions, slowly maturing and then remove her from her family's safety (Dr. Baxter) and her fiancé McCandless. Wedderman wanted to show her off as a beautiful creature (who embarrassed him constantly), and did all he could to control her, and own her.

Many times, in the sex scenes or the surgery scenes of experimentation, I had to run the film ahead.

Also, HULU kept jamming up with the damned spinning circle constantly in the last thirty minutes of the film.

I just wanted to get to the end of this horrid movie!! Wasted my time except for the beautifully created scenery. It also creeped me out and not in a good way.

Just take out the actors, the abominable creatures, and the spoken words, and show us the visuals, the steamship, the buildings, the costumes. That would make a great movie, not this gumbo of an Australian screenwriter’s adaptation of a dirty book by a dead Scottish man, centered on a man’s attempt to control a woman who – gasp – actually enjoys sex for the pleasure of it.

I watched the Oscars and the camera panned to Annette Benning, who lost to Emma. She had a sort-of glare on her face. Now I understand it - not because Emma beat her. I think it was because of the shitstorm in this movie of over the top sexual encounters, nudity and nonsense. Older Annette knew the Oscar idiots would vote for that and not her acting in a story based on true events. They would want the weird and over the top.

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About the Creator

Andrea Corwin

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  • Anna 16 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Lamar Wiggins18 days ago

    Congrats on your TS. I had to go run and watch the trailer before responding and have to say I'm intrigued, not conflicted though. I may give it a shot but will probably forget to do so, lol. Thank you for your review.

  • Ameer Bibi19 days ago

    Congratulations 🎉 on your top story that's new for me

  • Jill Harper-Judd20 days ago

    Andrea, I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. Yes, there were a LOT of sex scenes, but that was partly the point. I don't like watching sex scenes either, but there was a purpose to it. but lets start at the beginning. Warning: there are definitely some spoilers here and I apologize for the length. :-) Keep in mind that Godwin had no real measure of ethical boundaries - the fact that his father had performed experiment after experiment on him and in fact damaged his genitalia (in the name of "science") to the point of making him a eunuch is an important piece of background. Psychologically, the only way he can justify what his father did to him is by carrying out his own ethically questionable scientific experiments as well. As long as it is in a quest for knowlege, then it must be OK. (it *has* to be - otherwise he would have to admit the abuse and that what his father did was wrong...which creates a classic dysfunctional set-up we see played out even today). So that's how we come to the story. Now, did you notice how the filming was originally in black and white and very distorted at the beginning of the film? Gradually - very, very gradually, color was added and then the distortion eliminated. By the end of the movie, the visual was perfect and in full color. This parallelled Bella's gradual gaining of understanding of herself and the world around her. Yes, as a child with a child's brain, she did a lot of childish things (in an adult's body). Godwin, and then Max, were always keeping records because that's what you do when experimenting. Here again, Godwin was able to justify what he did to create Bella because she was just another experiment. One of the more satisfying aspects of the conclusion was that he recognized his paternal feelings for her and her filial love for him. Ruffalo's character was indeed a rogue. But he had gained enough insight through writing the contract to realize that something odd was happening in that house. He took advantage of it, whisking Bella off to Europe with him right at a time when she was maturing into a sexual being. Despite your dislike of the sex scenes, these were important - she discovered masturbation and, like any child unaware that it was "wrong", she explored this feeling that made her happy. Sexual activity, likewise, made her feel good. Wedderburn offered this and in an immediate way; McCandless did not. Additionally, Wedderburn offered her an opportunity to see the world, which she was desperately curious about. Godwin and McCandless wanted to protect her as much as they could but in viewing her (still) as an experiment they failed to see the strong will and desire of an intelligent young woman seeking to grow and learn. And since she wasn't aware that sex was "bad" - or of the concept of monogamy for that matter - she wasn't concerned about exploring or engaging with sex with others. To her it was just something she liked, no further thought needed. I believe you missed the point of the scene of the homeless/helpless. It was not as well done as most of the other scenes and lacked the weight and character of much of the rest of the movie...but its purpose was to show that for the first time in her life, Bella recognized suffering and empathized with the individuals who were suffering. Her solution was that of any innocent - she wanted to help. This was HUGE - empathy is only possible when someone has developed a sense of self. So she was learning to notice the world around her and then consider her place in it. Remember, she hadn't been exposed to the life lessons we take for granted. So yes she took Duncan's money -but not for herself- she wanted to help the helpless (although she was naive enough about the affairs of the world to trust the wrong individuals to distribute it). Then, ever practical, even when put off the ship Bella set off to find a job. Working in the brothel actually gave Bella her first taste of independence, both financially and in terms of her relationships. She made friends. She learned more about sex and realized there was more to life. She learned about feminism and women's rights (or lack thereof). So yes, she was a prostitute but sex was no longer to make "happy" but instead to provide her with funds to do all the other things she wanted to do. She became a voracious reader on the boat and continued this passion throughout the remainder of the movie. She learned the ways of the world but she soaked up knowledge and information like a sponge. Our counterpoint here was Duncan slowly going mad because he couldn't keep her or control her. When Bella returned to England and her "family" she was much more mature but she still didn't refuse to marry Max and when her "husband" claimed her she agreed to go - but with the depth of experience she had gained she very quickly realized this mistake and set out to correct it in the best way she knew how - she made him into one of Godwin's creatures. Personally, I would have preferred he have the actual head of a goat, but there was a nice sense of satisfaction there. And the final scene - relaxing in the back yard, her friends with her, in sharp focus - this infant had grown into a capable, confident young woman precisely because she lacked so many of the societal/cultural inhibitions of her time and was open to new experiences. From experience comes wisdom.

  • Ha Le Sa21 days ago

    Well written!

  • Gena Adamson21 days ago

    Woah! I’m both intrigued and terrified to watch it 😂 Truly a wonderful review and congratulations on your top story!

  • Jackie Teeple21 days ago

    I’ve never read a review so rife with spoilers. Question for you though: why is the action of sex so “icky” to you? Finding freedom of self through freedom of body and freedom from prudishness isn’t “icky” at all. Maybe movies with sexual content aren’t for you, and if they aren’t, why watch past the warning before it starts that it has sexual content? Why demonize a character that is a walking analogy for the disabled community for discovering herself? So it was through sex, but sex was a doorway to knowledge and experience for her, it was a tool she learned to leverage to find her way in the world, why on earth is that “icky???” It pains me to see such a stick in the mud, spoiler riddled review get top story, especially with as many grammatical issues as I saw in my read. Very disappointed that Vocal is promoting this spoilery shame-fest as top.

  • I would watch it solely because she is in it. Congratulations on your too story.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • angela hepworth21 days ago

    im so glad you expressed this, you echoed so many of the issues i had with it too - i ended up having to turn it off. that being said, emma stone’s acting was incredible as always!

  • Rachel Deeming21 days ago

    Well, I'm not sure about this at all. I haven't seen it. I am curious about it, merely to form my own opinion about it but I don't know that I'll like it! But blimey, this has prompted a lot of debate! It sounds a bit David Lynch-like to me and I liked the challenge of his films but not the content, if that makes sense. Either way, your review has piqued my interest, Andrea.

  • Kageno Hoshino21 days ago

    This is interesting to think about

  • laura dern21 days ago

    A spoiler warning would be great for those who have not seen the film, you describe important parts of the plot with no warning.

  • Josey Pickering21 days ago

    As an autistic person, I actually highly related to this movie, because if you look at it from the perspective of a neuro divergent person… it’s eye-opening the infantilization despite intense sexualization. Fact that Duncan literally says I liked you when you didn’t talk as much… I could go on and on

  • I enjoyed this movie because I looked at it from the psychological depths of mother-child relationship, woman-man relationship and then the feminist approach to questioning the roles and rights of women in society. I agree it was over the top in horrific details and language, but psychologically speaking it is a brialliant movie.

  • Hannah Moore21 days ago

    I thought it had a lot of interesting thinking points and I found it very stimulating that way, but I was glad to reach the end. I also thought it was a feminist exploration of socialisation written, screen written and directed entirely through the male gaze, which was either an appealing let down or the point of the whole thing and I was never sure which.

  • Babs Iverson21 days ago

    Spectacular review!!!💕❤️❤️ Now, I don't have to sit through it!!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • Paul Stewart21 days ago

    Oh dear...I think I shall be giving this a miss, even if I do like Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo. I was genuinely interested in it...but have heard similar things to your review Andrea or at least things that have caused me to have some concerns. Thank you and well done on this getting Top Story! I read it a few days ago but forgot to comment and like...such a bad bad person haha!

  • Laurie Meyer22 days ago

    Thank goodness for Ms Corwin’s review! It will save a lot of people from wasting their time on this horrid movie. My sophisticated liberal 42 year old daughter called to warn me not to watch this movie…She was so grossed out she too turned it off after a few minutes. What was the Academy thinking? Thank you for your “picture perfect” review Ms Corwin of this hugely imperfect picture show.

  • This director's other movies kinda got on my nerves as well so I'll probably be skipping this. Yeah, poor Annette, it's like how many women need to get naked and have sex in a movie to get an Oscar (Halle Berry, so many others).

  • I was planning of watching this but all that sex kinda made me change my mind. I have sexual trauma but I don't mind sex scenes or nudity in movies but the ones here seem very extreme. You also mentioned experiments on animals. I cannot watch anything with anything being done to an animal. Also, a full grown woman with the brain of her dead fetus, having sex with grown men. Don't you think it's kinda inclining towards pedophilia? 😅 I mean I know it's just a movie but I was just wondering.

  • John Cox23 days ago

    Thanks for the warning about this movie. The commercials for it are deceptive as Hell. I probably would have watched it otherwise. Narrow escape!

  • Shirley Belk23 days ago

    Andrea, I hated it so much that I had to turn it off just as she was meeting with Mr. Duncan Wedderburn. Raunchy. Disgusting. Putrid. BUT, up to that point, Emma Stone deserved her award. I'm sorry you had to watch it in totality, but so glad you told me the rest of the story so I can be happy about my decision to turn it off. I didn't see the movie that Annette Benning played in, so I can't compare to judge. I don't think I will see goats the same after knowing this, though...lol

  • D. J. Reddall23 days ago

    I am still intrigued by this film because of its intertextual debt to Shelley's _Frankenstein_, but your review has blunted my enthusiasm.

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