Poor Things Review

Friday 12 January 2024


Plot: The incredible tale about the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter.

Film: Poor Things

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Writers: Tony McNamara, Alasdair Gray

Starring: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe

Poor Things is undoubtedly going to be a stand out of the year for me, this film was everything I wanted it to be. The film creatively explores Bella Baxter’s journey from a silent figure to the ultimate self-made woman. Set in a distorted, steampunk-infused Victorian past, Lanthimos’s use of fisheye lenses adds a surreal touch, emphasizing patriarchal power imbalances.

Willem Dafoe, as Dr. Godwin Baxter, plays a crucial role in Bella’s evolution, offering a subversive twist on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Bella’s quest for knowledge extends beyond Godwin’s mansion, taking her to Lisbon, Alexandria, and a Parisian brothel. The film’s visual transformation from black and white to an uncanny, hyperreal color palette reflects Bella’s expanding horizons and as much as you fear she is being taken advantage of, starting the film as a young girl in the body of a woman, Bella takes every opportunity given to her and adapts as she learns, you watch her age with every new experience. 

The biggest surprise for me in Poor Things was Mark Ruffalo’s role as the sleazy lawyer Duncan Wedderburn, who has purely alternative motives for taking Bella to see the world, but ends up a broken man as Bella outgrows him. It’s very satisfying to see and every line Ruffalo delivers is perfect comedy. 

Emma Stone is the obvious star, her physicality in this film, particularly having to believably portray being an oversized toddler, contributes significantly to Bella’s journey. Jerskin Fendrix’s eccentric score and Robbie Ryan’s curious camera work add depth, mirroring Bella’s intellectual growth.

Poor Things will take you right up to your boundaries, with a narrative that is both subversive and visually captivating. The collaboration between Lanthimos and Stone continues to deliver daring, uninhibited artistry, fueled by an uncommon degree of mutual trust. 

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