Poor Things - Review (London Film Festival 2023)
Nothing but Sugar and Violence. 4.5 / 5
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.
Bella Baxter is brought back to life by the unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with a debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents.
After the success and awards recognition for The Favourite, director Yorgos Lanthimos finds himself in the rare occasion of having a blank cheque from a major studio - the freedom to create whatever project suits his fancy… And he made the most of that opportunity with the magnificent Poor Things.
An abstract journey of self-discovery, Poor Things follows Emma Stone's Bella Baxter who is reborn into an unfamiliar world, traversing new countries and experiences as she tries to understand her place in it. Stone gives arguably the strongest and most committed relationship of her career, giving every part of her being to commit to Bella's eccentric character. Her expansive transformation happens so subtly that only when you look back, do you realise how far she's come. Supporting Stone is Willem Dafoe who plays unorthodox characters perhaps slightly too well and Mark Ruffalo who you can tell is having the time of his life playing an inordinate caricature representing the best and worst qualities of man.
Poor Things is really a film that you need to give yourself over to - the more you go with it, the more you'll get out of it. The dream-like setting with warped cinematography and extravagant production design, the distorted score by Jerskin Fendrix and elaborate costumes create a world that is visually dissimilar to ours. Still, as Bella goes on her journey she learns that our two worlds may have more in common than previously thought.
Underneath the bizarre aesthetic and shocking moments that leave you laughing in disbelief, there is a touching tale that explores acceptance and independence in a world that doesn't make sense. Bold, dark and hilarious, Poor Things isn't afraid to take audiences to forbidden places, twisting a Frankenstein tale in a relevant and disturbed way that only Yorgos Lanthimos could get away with.