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POOR THINGS

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

150 mins, USA-Ireland-UK, 2023, Digital

Having recently drowned, Bella (Emma Stone) has, under the grisly and morally questionable ministrations of Dr. Godwin (Willem Dafoe), an unconventional, and alarmingly disfigured surgeon in Victorian Scotland, been reanimated with the consciousness of a child. With help from Archibald McCandless (Ramy Youssef), Godwin’s love-struck assistant, the girl rapidly develops, and, as her blossoming libido takes over, she is seduced by Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a lascivious, foppish cad who whisks the naïve girl away on a ship bound for Lisbon. Lanthimos uses this bizarre scenario, adapted from Alasdair Gray’s acclaimed novel, as a vehicle to wryly interrogate notions of identity, sexuality, gender dynamics, nature vs. nurture, and a whole array of other knotty issues. Smart, playful, with brilliant performances, Poor Things proves beyond doubt that Lanthimos is one of the true visionaries of contemporary cinema.

Notes by David O’Mahony

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