Tuesday 27 February 2024

Poor Things (2023)

If you appreciate the work of Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dogtooth, The Favourite) then you'll likely lap this one up too! It's a seemingly chaotic, Victorian-era, gothic, dark and bizarre romp with a feel of Frankenstein at the core.

Bella Baxter is the creation of mad scientist/doctor Godwin, having snatched up a pregnant woman who had committed suicide by plunging into the Thames. She died, but the child survived, so Dr Fruit-loop (calling himself 'God' by the way) takes the brain of the infant and puts it inside the head of the woman and what we end up with is the woman, dubbed Bella by him, for he knew not who she was, with a child's mind, outlook, behaviour and sense of adventure and discovery.

Willem Dafoe (Inside, Tom & Viv, Nightmare Alley) as the monster scientist plays it beautifully, only upstaged by the fabulous performance of Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight, The Favourite, Irrational Man, La La Land) as Bella. The pair of them transform into the characters required of them and are clearly having great fun depicting this off-the-wall story. They are a delight to watch (and for those wanting to see more of Stone, she certainly reveals plenty of herself)!

Yes, there's loads of sex as Bella explores being an adult, gets into all sorts of adventures, looks for her place and what she should be doing. The doctor is too past-it to consider coupling up with the young Bella, so he grooms one of his medical students, Max McCandles, played by Ramy Youssef (Mr Robot), lining him up to be her partner and eventually, husband. Bella finds him boring though and is much more turned on by the attentions of the doctor's wild lawyer, himself wanting to grab all life can offer, Duncan Wedderburn, played equally slickly by Mark Ruffalo (All the Light We Cannot See, Dark Waters).

Wedderburn whisks Bella off on a tour of Europe, having his way with her in various cities, situations and onboard boats, showing her how to make the most of her adult body, she milking the pleasure it can bring her! Eventually, the wild lawyer falls for Bella though, against his better judgement at the outset, and is most upset when she wants more than just him. More excitement with more people!

But it's not all sex and soft-porn! This is a delightful arthouse outing which is directed beautifully, the most being made of bright colours and lavish, creative, fantasy-based sets. So yes, the cinematography is perfect and the sets and costumes from a creative mind (and world). When you see the boat they are on at one point from afar, this all becomes very clear - that it's a creation of a mind going wild with design and ideas. And the who thing's a whacko idea, but clearly Lanthimos is having fun creating, in an almost Tim Burton way at times.

The film could be considered absurd, but I loved it as a reworking of the Frankenstein tale. The 2 hours and 20 minutes runtime simply flew by, the performances from pretty much all the players was great - but particularly the four leads, headed up by the impeccable Emma Stone. It's a wild ride, so strap in, get lost in it and you'll enjoy!

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