- Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Emma Stone, is receiving critical acclaim with a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- The film, based on Alasdair Gray’s novel, explores the fantastical story of Bella Baxter, brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist.
- While critics praise the performances of Stone and the supporting cast, the film’s unconventional nature may not appeal to mainstream audiences.
Poor Things, the latest collaboration between director Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, is faring well with critics. The film premiered at the 80th Venice Film Festival in September and landed in US theaters on Friday, December 8. As reviews pour in, the film boasts an impressive 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Praise for the film and its talented cast, which includes Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, and Jerrod Carmichael, comes as no surprise; the film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and has garnered plenty of Oscars buzz. Last week, the National Board of Review named Poor Things one of the best films of the year (with Killers of the Flower Moon taking the top honor).
Adapted by screenwriter Tony McNamara from Alasdair Gray’s novel of the same name, Poor Things tells the incredible tale about the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter (Stone), a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Dafoe). The Frankenstein-like tale is the most recent collaboration between Lanthimos and Stone, who both earned Academy Award nominations for their 2018 period comedy The Favourite. With Poor Things, the two seem to continue a prosperous, creative relationship.
RogerEbert.com‘s Christy Lemire calls the sci-fi romance the best movie of the year and Lanthimos’ best directorial feature (quite an accomplishment considering the director previously helmed The Lobster and The Favourite). About Stone, Lemire writes:
“Reuniting with Lanthimos after ‘The Favourite,’ Stone gives the performance of a lifetime in a role that has a staggering degree of difficulty. This could have gone horribly wrong; instead, what she’s doing is wildly alive and unpredictable in ways large and small. Watching her start out big and broad and fine tune the character little by little, physically and verbally, as Bella evolves is a wonder to behold.”
Praise for Poor Things’ Supporting Cast and Crew
While Stone and Lanthimos top the list of reasons that critics are enamored with Poor Things, there’s also plenty of admiration for the supporting cast. The National Board of Review recognized Ruffalo as the best supporting actor for his role in the film. AP’s Lindsey Bahr is among critics praising the actor’s portrayal:
“While it is Stone’s movie, all the supporting men are exemplary and unexpected, especially Ruffalo who is so deliriously fun and funny that it’s almost criminal that he hasn’t been unleashed like this before.”
MovieWeb’s Julian Roman praises the entire cast and crew:
“‘Poor Things’ will have jaws hitting the floor. It is a must-see, but requires an open mind and acceptance of salacious humor. This isn’t a conservative experience in any sense. Lanthimos, Stone, their brilliant supporting players, and the talents behind the camera are all extraordinary.”
Despite its early success, there are critics the film has failed to impress, with some calling the film self-indulgent and unnecessarily long. Some enjoyed the film but note that it may not succeed with general audiences. Keeping an open mind, as Roman shares, seems an essential note from critics to broad audiences. Bloody Disgusting‘s Meagan Navarro says the film “is the precise type of strange cinema that mainstream audiences will find off-putting.”
For now, just days after its theatrical debut, Poor Things holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with audiences (with less than 50 verified audience reviews). One verified reviewer, Liz Mac, wrote:
“It was a very good movie. And I hated it.”
That concise review captures the essence of Lanthimos’ films, which often impress critics but aren’t necessarily beloved by moviegoers.
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