Sunday, September 03, 2023

Poor Things (in the presence of Yorgos Lanthimos)

Yorgos Lanthimos: Poor Things (US/IE/GB 2023) with Emma Stone.

Werner Herzog Theater, Telluride Film Festival (TFF), 2 Sep 2023.

David Fear (TFF 2023): " Director Yorgos Lanthimos reunites with THE FAVOURITE screenwriter Tony McNamara and star Emma Stone for this funny, furious, proudly feminist take on the Frankenstein story, in which a young woman named Bella is raised from the dead by a Victorian-era scientist (Willem Dafoe). Her brain is the equivalent of an infant’s, which means she must relearn language, motor skills and manners. Then a mustachioed cad (Mark Ruffalo) educates this neo-naïf in the ways of carnal knowledge, at which point Bella discovers the joys of sex, the hypocritical sexism of 19th century polite society and, eventually, how to liberate herself from the shackles of the past and present. Co-starring Ramy Youssef, Hanna Schygulla and Jerrod Carmichael, POOR THINGS is both a sharp, witty throwback to the Pilgrim’s Progress satires of yesteryear and a scathing revision of the Prometheus myth, featuring a no-holds-barred performance from Stone as a woman who goes from victim to avenging angel. " –DF (U.S.-Ireland-U.K., 2023, 141 m) In person: Yorgos Lanthimos

Festival premiere: 1 Sep 2023 Venice Film Festival.
American festival premiere: 2 Sep 2023 Telluride Film Festival.

AA: Poor Things is an extravaganza, a film of fantasy, horror, spectacle and magic in the great tradition of Méliès, Fellini and Jeunet & Caro. Even steampunk has been evoked. It is inspired by The Bride of Frankenstein, but the horror and the science fiction are largely a framework of a bizarre militant feminist Victorian emancipation saga. The film is image-driven, and the amount of visual imagination is breathtaking from the start to literally the finish - even the final art credits are an impressive art exhibition in their own right. I might want to visit it in an art gallery. There is enough visual inspiration in this movie for a dozen regular ones. It is beyond discourse and needs to be seen and not explained. Emma Stone is stunning as Bella in the wild tale of gross ordeals from which she emerges as a survivor. Willem Dafoe has a powerful presence as the scientist who is both like Frankenstein and his monster. Gore and splatter is not avoided, nor sex and nudity. It is not gratuitous but essential to the incredible saga.

From a Finnish perspective, I am reminded of Anna Eriksson's wild rides in M (2018) and W (2022).

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