“Poor Things” Shines in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Bizarre Brilliance

In his latest cinematic venture, “Poor Things,” director Yorgos Lanthimos continues his exploration of extreme human behavior set against seemingly pristine backdrops. From the peculiar suburban world of “Dogtooth” to the clinical lab of “The Lobster” and the opulent grandeur of “The Favourite,” Lanthimos skillfully weaves a tapestry of contrast between societal decorum and the messy truth of humanity.

Set in Victorian London, the film centers around Emma Stone’s character, Bella Baxter, who embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery within the eccentric confines of her townhouse. Dr. Godwin Baxter, portrayed by Willem Dafoe, serves as both a mad scientist and a father figure to Bella. The film’s core theme revolves around the awkwardness of forging genuine human connections, a recurring motif in Lanthimos’ repertoire.

“Poor Things” thrives on its wonderfully bizarre elements, from quirky performances and unconventional dialogue to striking production and costume design. Stone delivers a standout performance, navigating the challenging role with remarkable finesse. As Bella evolves from behaving like a toddler to a sexually liberated woman, Stone’s portrayal is a marvel of technical precision and comedic brilliance.

The supporting cast, including Ramy Youssef as Max McCandles and Mark Ruffalo as the charming yet amusingly pathetic Duncan Wedderburn, adds layers of humor and depth to the narrative. The specificity of the language, adapted from Alasdair Gray’s novel by Tony McNamara, contributes to the film’s rhythmic poetry, capturing Bella’s intellectual evolution.

Robbie Ryan’s cinematography masterfully captures the evolution of Bella’s journey, transitioning from grainy black and white to lush, vibrant colors. Holly Waddington’s costume design and the production design by Shona Heath and James Price further enhance the immersive experience, skillfully portraying Bella’s story through intricate details.

“Poor Things” is a visual and narrative feast, reinventing historical images through an outlandish prism with hints of Escher and Gaudi. Despite the exquisite technical elements, the heart of the film lies in Bella’s character—kind, optimistic, and empowered by newfound self-discovery. In a cinematic landscape filled with peculiarities, “Poor Things” stands out as an astonishing and captivating masterpiece, earning its place as the best movie of the year.