“Poor Things”


Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (4/5)

When the circumstances of our lives don’t suit us, it’s time to reinvent ourselves – something that happens both literally and metaphorically in this latest offering from director Yorgos Lanthimos. But the way that result comes about here represents a truly inspired fusion of genres, including comedy, romance, social commentary and sci-fi, making for one of the most inventive, unusual and hilarious releases of recent years. This offbeat feminist fable tells the story of how a pregnant, young, anonymous suicide victim (Emma Stone) is reanimated with the aid of a brain transplant from her unborn fetus, an achievement accomplished by a colorful, controversial but well-meaning surgeon/scientist a la Dr. Frankenstein (Willem Dafoe). He nurtures his subject back to life, health and sentience, a sometimes-challenging process that finally surfaces when she discovers sexuality, the trigger for exploring a new, independent life for herself, both physically and emotionally. Through a series of adventures over the course of a trip through Europe with a free-wheeling, lusty but lecherous, self-serving lawyer (Mark Ruffalo), she finds herself as a self-actualized woman in an age where that’s more of a rarity than a standard, particularly in a world where men treat women more like property than people. While the film’s pacing could use some shoring up in the middle, this offering nevertheless entertains with uproarious laughs throughout, even when the narrative turns more thoughtful and substantive. The superb performances by Stone, Dafoe and Ruffalo are top shelf, contributing to the picture’s whopping 13 Critics Choice Award and 7 Golden Globe Award nominations. The film is also visually stunning in its cinematography and editing, as well as in its spectacular and whimsical production design, filled with images reminiscent of the movies of Wes Anderson and Terry Gilliam while sustaining a look all its own. Admittedly, this release features a good deal of explicit sexuality, both visually and in the dialogue, so sensitive viewers should take note. However, as one of the most anticipated pictures of this year’s awards season, “Poor Things” never disappoints, serving up a solid offering that consistently tickles the funny bone while giving audiences much to think about – and there’s nothing poor in any of that.