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The “Poor Things” are its audience

Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

I have a lot of problems with writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos. His movies always have a few good scenes, but are ultimately disappointing (despite all the critical praise they get). I’m sure any of you that have seen “Dog Tooth,” “The Lobster,” “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” or “The Favourite,” will agree with me.

One of his stars from “The Favourite” – Emma Stone, was perhaps smart to join him in “Poor Things” as she’s getting Oscar buzz. Yet she did at least 35 sex scenes that were rather graphic, with full nudity. This movie would have been given an X rating 25 years ago.

Willem Dafoe, who hasn’t met a weird character he doesn’t like, is good as Dr. Godwin (who’s more like Dr. Frankenstein). He finds a woman (Emma Stone) who jumped off a bridge. He keeps her alive by taking her unborn baby, and putting that brain in her. This means Bella has the body of an adult, but the brain of a baby. And comedy ensues! (or so thinks Lanthimos). A young medical student who is observing her falls in love with her. A womanizing lawyer shows up (Mark Ruffalo, who is actually good in the role, despite idiotic lines) and also falls for her. He takes her around the world, to show her the sights and have sex with her non-stop. When she gives away all his money, they’re stranded in Paris. So she starts working at a brothel, and likes it (it was much more fun when Julie Hagerty lost all of Albert Brooks’ money in “Lost in America” and has to work at Wienerschnitzel, which come to think of it, would be a good name for a brothel).

The sex scenes are gratuitous. The scenarios are not the least bit interesting. About the only thing interesting about this film are the vibrant colors and the interiors and costumes. 

The problem is Lanthimos is so in love with his bizarre filmmaking, he can’t get out of his own way. For example, we often get scenes filmed with a fish-eye lens for some reason.

You’ll watch this thinking of other movies – “Island of Dr. Moreau,” “Frankenstein,” “Edward Scissorhands,” and more. You’d be better served watching one of those, and not being one of the “poor things” that had to sit through two and a half hours of this garbage.

The score was also one of the worst I’ve heard in years. And 90% of the jokes fall flat (although there is a cute dance scene).

0 stars.

Josh Board is an Escondido resident who has been reviewing movies for 35 years, on TV, radio, and online. He can be heard every Friday morning on KOGO 600 AM.

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