Poor Things Movie Review: A Twisted and Thought-Provoking Adaptation
Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and based on the novel by Alasdair Gray, is a darkly satirical and visually stunning film that serves as a loose sequel to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” The movie, which premiered at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival, takes a modern philosophical approach to the story, offering a wry and rollicking comedy that is far from your average Frankenstein retread.
A Delightfully Perverse Tale
Poor Things takes place in a retro-future Georgian England, where the resurrected Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) exhibits the characteristics of both a toddler and a highly intellectual adult. She is brought to life by the scientist and surgeon Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), who himself bears similarities to Frankenstein’s monster.
The film explores Bella’s relationships with various characters, including Godwin, his student Max McCandles (Rami Yousef), and the attorney Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo). As romance and control intertwine in the story, questions of autonomy and consent arise, creating discomfort and forcing Bella to reconsider her place in the world.
A Gonzo Performance and Twisted Metaphors
Emma Stone delivers an off-the-wall performance as Bella, starting as an overgrown baby and developing into a woman with no filter. Her sexual and intellectual growth is depicted with unflinching honesty, exploring themes of adolescence and rebellion. Stone’s portrayal, filled with cutting frankness and naivety, adds a unique and provocative dimension to the film.
Visually, the film is a feast for the eyes, with eccentric designs and wide lenses that distort spaces and faces. The transition from black and white to saturated colors further enhances the sense of wonder and discovery in Bella’s journey.
An Exploration of Creation and Birth
Poor Things draws inspiration from Mary Shelley’s own experiences with creation and birth, adding depth to the themes of the original Frankenstein novel. Shelley’s personal tragedies, including a stillbirth and the death of her mother, inform the perversions of creation and abandonment present in the story.
In its own twisted and thought-provoking way, Poor Things delves into these themes with dark humor and philosophical musings. It tackles questions of control, autonomy, and society’s rules, all while delivering a visually stunning and delightfully perverse cinematic experience.