The Reel Review


A mad scientist in Victorian-era London reanimates a pregnant suicide victim using the brain from her unborn fetus. This newly created woman-child with no memory – and no sense of morality – learns to navigate her new, male-dominated world… on her terms. Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe star in this fantasy/rom-com based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel.

Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo in Poor Things

To say writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos likes to shock people is like saying the sun shines. Even so, this strange coming-of-age tale is his most audacious film to date – one that will no doubt deeply divide audiences between the arthouse crowd who find it a brilliant analysis of misogyny and sexual politics and mainstream viewers repelled by its nonstop nudity, graphic sex and masturbation – none of it even remotely sexy. (Which sort of is his point.)

Emma Stone in Poor Things

The visuals, the evolving costuming throughout the film and the score are all creative and wonderfully weird. The acting is strong as well, particularly Stone’s impressive transformation from a mindless woman-child stumbling and speaking like a zombie/baby into an articulate woman with complex thoughts. And there are some truly funny moments. But by the two-hour mark, Lanthimos’ exhaustingly quirky camerawork and nonstop sex, or as Bella calls it, “furious jumping,” grows tiresome, and serves only to distance the viewer from his thought-provoking message.


Scottish novelist Alasdair Gray

• Yorgos Lanthimos first approached Alasdair Gray about adapting his novel Poor Things in 2009, with Gray taking Lanthimos on a tour of the locations in Glasgow that he included in the novel. The renowned Scottish author died after a brief illness on December 29, 2019, the day after his 85th birthday.

• This is the third time Emma Stone has worked with Yorgos Lanthimos, after 2018’s The Favourite and the 2022 short film Bleat.

• Yorgos Lanthimos says he gave screenwriter Tony McNamara (The Favourite) three films to serve as references for the tone and feel of Poor Things: 1983’s The Ship Sails On, 1967’s Belle de Jour and 1974’s Young Frankenstein.


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  1. Melinda Jones December 27, 2023

    Looks kinda fun!

  2. Brent Guillot January 21, 2024

    Best movie of the year. No best movie in years. A all the way