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Poor Things


Year: 2023 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (Wide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos 
Starring: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe  
An image from Poor Things

Yorgos Lanthimos has never been content to settle for middle-brow decency. After some shocking and scabrous dramas in his homeland of Greece, his move into English-language features has seemed to manufacture products of extremely fertile compromise. From giving The Lobster’s bizarre sci-fi setting a mundane and bureaucratic sheen, to daubing the fading Stuart era with vivacious modern rudery in The Favourite, Lanthimos has always forced the ordinary and extraordinary into an uneasy friendship. Poor Things, though, looks set to tip the balance in a way we haven’t seen before. This is a weird story spun out of a weird world - and if the trailer is to be trusted, it will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. Where The Favourite alumnus Emma Stone was previously a scalding counterpart to Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne, she has now been put front and centre. Adapted from the 1992 novel of the same name, Stone is Bella Baxter: an “experiment” given new life under the care of Dr. Godwin (Willem Dafoe, under some unsettling prosthetics). Having discovered Bella’s corpse in the Thames, Godwin’s home laboratory becomes a space of observation as she quickly grows and - along with a young suitor (Ramy Youssef) - negotiates her emotional and sexual maturity. As one character chuckles, “a woman plotting her course to freedom - how delightful!” The period setting and narrative reference points call to mind the excess of steampunk and Gothic horror. Just take any shot from the trailer to find proof of this: all fish-eye lenses and vignetted portraits, the look isn’t so much historical as reverential. (It is no coincidence that Lanthimos and his cinematographer have spoken of the influence of Coppola’s colourful, theatrical version of Dracula rather than the original novel.) And once Mark Ruffalo turns up, terrifically besuited as the dashing lawyer who offers a means of escape, the film takes flight into kaleidoscopic worlds–backdrops to Bella’s super-charged development. Poor Things is sure to be a raucous cinematic treat.

Max King

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the stranger big names in the modern cinematic landscape, with laconic, off-kilter oddities like The Lobster and The Favourite under his belt, but his latest is the wildest swing yet (even for him) – a science-fantasy surrealist odyssey of sex and steampunk, a candy-coloured Frankenstein full of demented gothic universes and hilarious characters. Starring Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo and a host of weird little animal-hybrid thingies (like I said, odd movie), Poor Things is without a doubt one of the more unique pictures you could catch this year, and not an experience to be missed.

Tomas Caldon

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Screenings of this film:

2023/2024 Spring Term (digital)
2023/2024 Spring Term (digital)