Poor Things Review


Rating: 3/5


Whenever I see a film with Yorgos Lanthimos’ name on it, there is always the scenario that I will be perplexed, confused, or grossed out. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it’s revolting. “Poor Things” continues this trend, where scientist Godwin Baxter is attempting a new science experiment. He creates Bella Baxter, a woman with the mind of an infant. He attempts to teach Bella about life through unorthodox methods. When Bella discovers some of life’s most interesting pleasures, she ventures into the world to expand her knowledge. What follows is a series of life changing events and revelations. 


I’ll admit that “Poor Things” isn’t generally the type of movie that I gravitate towards. But I believe movies like this should exist to keep consumers interested in film. There is certainly a crowd that will love everything about this, I’m just not there. I’ll give credit where it’s due though. Performances are the first piece to highlight. Emma Stone fully commits to the absurdity of the role. Whether it be acting like a toddler, showcasing a newfound appreciation for knowledge, or having copious amounts of sex with strangers…she gives it all. The different layers she is asked to bring to the character of Bella is no small task, so credit to her for giving such a thorough performance. Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe also provide impressive supporting performances. They highlight the different people that are prominent in Bella’s life, where the good and bad associated with them unfolds as the film goes on. Each other supporting performance also fits well into the story, providing insight for Bella at every turn. The costume design and production of the set is very impressive. There is no doubt the creative team spent their time and money transporting us to a different reality. Credit to them for having a vision and sticking to it.

I enjoy when a story is unpredictable. With the film industry shrinking down on creativity, it’s nice that a movie like “Poor Things” comes along and stirs up the pot. This forces the industry to continue making films that create conversation. I enjoy a world that encourages different kinds of storytelling, where blockbusters, rich character studies, indie films, and every other genre can coexist together. Audiences want options, and “Poor Things” is a testament to creative filmmaking and barrier breaking storytelling. The film challenges viewers with morality, independence, and what it means to be a human. Bella goes on such a unique journey that encourages audiences to reevaluate what societal norms are, and if they are all worth maintaining. I think Bella’s character explores womanhood, forging a different path, and the idea of making independent decisions in a more interesting way than “Barbie” did. It challenges audiences more and presents the concept in a more unique way. I’d also argue that the idea of letting others decide things for you is addressed, where bodily autonomy and control are out of Bella’s reach. As she goes on this journey and experiences life, she forges a path for herself and learns to be her own person. These ideas are explored in a very intense and controversial way. The film certainly pushes boundaries to do this, so credit to “Poor Things” for being gutsy.


While I appreciate unique filmmaking and the exploration of controversial ideas, “Poor Things” isn’t a story I connected to all that much. That’s not to say the film is poorly made or lacks creative direction, moreso stylistically just not my preference. This is a film that I appreciate more than I enjoy. I will only watch it once and likely wouldn’t recommend this for most audiences. I’d say those who enjoy weird, off the wall indie films will be the primary demographic. Most mainstream audiences will find this too strange to sit through and will likely lose interest fast. But if a strange story with a distinct footprint sounds interesting, I’d say give it a go. 

Lanthimos films certain scenes with a fish eye scope to create a distinct perspective. I didn’t think this enhanced that perspective and actually found it distracting. Good idea, wonky execution. But my main problem with the film comes with how Bella’s liberation is explored. I like the general idea of the story, but putting her through sexually exploitative situations to give her a sexual revolution seems gross to me. She has more sex in this movie than I’ve ever seen a character have and they don’t hold back on the graphicness of it. This could make audiences uncomfortable and question if this level of sex was necessary. It seems like there were other avenues to channel Bella’s exploration of life. Meeting people who care about her to help on this journey is a more effective avenue to take than feeling liberated through prostitution and sexual inquisitiveness. I felt that it undermined her journey to womanhood for an exploitive and backwards perspective on liberation. The idea of how she is experimented on with the transplanting of brains could also offend some viewers. Just proceed with caution and prepare to be grossed out, offended, and surprised. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not. 


“Poor Things” is certainly a film that has garnered conversation and controversy throughout the year. While I appreciate the risky story and unapologetic exploration of Bella’s journey, I can’t say this is a story I enjoyed very much. I’m glad I saw it and am happy that it exists. It’s important that the film industry keeps producing a variety of stories so that audiences have different experiences to look forward to. If seeing the trailer was enticing, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. But for those who don’t enjoy weird stories that test your comfort level, I’d steer clear of “Poor Things”.