Kinds of Kindness Review

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Fresh off the success of “Poor Things”, director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to his old school roots with “Kinds of Kindness”. We see his signature weird style come back into play, but this time with an anthology series. We see a group of actors portraying three different characters across a number of stories, each dealing with unique forms of dependence, manipulation, love, and toxic dynamics. All explore the different ways kindness is displayed in an artificial and controlling way. 

Positives:

I’ll admit I wasn’t one of the many who thought “Poor Things” was one of 2023’s top films. I respect its creative distinction but it didn’t connect for me personally. “Kinds of Kindness” returns to the style of Lanthimos’ filmography that I tend to enjoy. I’d say it’s more reminiscent of “The Lobster” and “Killing of a Sacred Deer”. The deadpan humor, edgy interactions, use of imagery, and powerful thematic analysis are all present here. Lanthimos also gathers another impressive cast to explore each set of characters. Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, and Emma Stone are the most prominent actors in each story. Each gives a terrific and dynamic performance in all three stories. They convey completely different types of characters and present a unique perspective on the subjects at hand. I’m glad Jesse Plemons finally got a leading man spot as well. He deserved it.

Lanthimos doesn’t hesitate to make the viewer uncomfortable either. Each story analyzes kindness in a society that weaponizes it for selfish gains. One story explores a controlling work relationship, another analyzes a toxic dynamic between spouses, and the third explores manipulation through cult-like activities. I found each section of the plot interesting as it examines the same idea in a number of ways. Each story is separate from one another but somehow manages to create the same profound effect by the end. I admire the risk taking and uncomfortable ways Lanthimos decides to present this information to the viewer. It definitely left an impression and had me thinking about the subject matter long after the credits rolled. This perspective is definitely a bleak one that examines the darker side of humanity, but it is nice to see a film with some creative distinction. 

Negative:

With every Yorgos Lanthimos film, there are certain aspects that are likely to turn viewers away. This is a film that I would caution viewers towards if they don’t like controversial topics, excessive toxic dynamics, or other circumstances that may upset general audiences. It explores some extremely difficult subject matter that is likely to confuse most audiences (myself included at times). I think some of this intense material was explored to a degree that was unnecessary and graphic. There were easily different ways to convey the ideas at hand without being so intense. But my guess is that Lanthimos wanted to make these events intentionally shocking to highlight how toxic/ugly people can be at times. I also think the anthology style of storytelling won’t be for everyone. I found it to be quite interesting but could also see how some audiences would find the style to be disjointed. 

Conclusion:

“Kinds of Kindness” is a return to form for the old school weirdness of director Yorgos Lanthimos. He explores some interesting themes in a way that only he can. I enjoyed the unique storytelling as it champions independent filmmaking and makes for a memorable experience. But proceed with caution because some of the subject matter is intense and grotesque. I wouldn’t recommend this to most audiences unless they enjoy weirder films or odd subject matter. But those who want a unique story with a lot to say should find value here!