Yorgos Lanthimos is a fucked up individual. Thankfully he’s also brilliant and one of the most fascinating filmmakers working today.
His latest, Poor Things, may be the best of his career, a twisted, darkly funny, superbly acted, and incredibly unique adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s novel, which of course I haven’t read because why would I have read such a thing.
A disturbed love story with steampunk vibes, Poor Things tackles social and gender norms and explores themes of identify, freedom, and morality. But who the hell cares about that? The movie is explosively funny, spurred by Lanthimos’ unfiltered willingness to go to dark places, a wickedly sharp script by Tony McNamara, and head-turning performances by everyone involved.
Emma Stone is at her very best here; you’ve never seen her like this before. Bella is the role of a lifetime and Stone feasts on it like a rabid animal. You can see it in her hungry, devious eyes, and you can’t look away. Mark Ruffalo is equally amazing, delivering a wild and hilariously weird performance as the villainous Duncan Wedderburn. Together, the two are a walking, fucking (or should I say furious jumping?) disaster, and you’ll love ever moment of it.
Equally great is Willem Dafoe, who lands some of the most incredible and zany lines of dialogue ever put to film. While Ramy Youssef will undeniably receive less attention and acclaim than the rest of the cast, he too is excellent.
Performances aside, Poor Things is just a sensational, intoxicating piece of filmmaking. It’s like anything you’ll see all year, and in many ways unlike anything Lanthimos has made before. The cinematography and style are unrivaled, weird, and experimental, and yet the movie is still oddly accessible.
If there’s only one movie you see all year, it may have to be Poor Things. And not just because Yorgos Lanthimos is a fucked up individual.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.