Poor Things | Picturehouse Recommends

Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone reunite for a fantastical odyssey of self-discovery that's one of the funniest films you'll see all year.

Ian Freer

10 Jan 24

Yorgos Lanthimos

Release Date
12 Jan


Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley, Kathryn Hunter


Running Time
142 mins

Poor Things is a strong contender for the funniest film of 2024.

A unique collaboration between Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos and Hollywood actor Emma Stone, it's a mark of its untethered brilliance that it effortlessly manages to be many things at once – a coming-of-age tale, a feminist fable, a one- of-a-kind travelogue and, perhaps most of all, an outrageous comedy – while still feeling coherent and captivating. It is cinema at its most visionary, unforgettable and surprisingly heartfelt, and should be seen on the biggest screen possible.

An extravagant adaptation of Alasdair Gray's 1992 novel, Poor Things is centred on the capricious Bella Baxter (Stone), who is the ward of scientist Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). She is also his creation, since he brought her back from the dead, Frankenstein-style, with the addition of a brain. Godwin plans for her to marry his sweet-natured student Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef) but Bella is taken with lothario lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo, a terrific cad and bounder), who whisks her off on a whistlestop tour of the world. The subsequent education of Bella Baxter becomes a joy to behold.

Building on the unique filmmaking style established by Lanthimos on The Lobster, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer and The Favourite, Poor Things is a masterpiece from a master filmmaker, comfortably his best work. It is full of the director's trademark flourishes – gorgeous chapter title cards, his customary use of a fish-eye lens that adds another layer of surrealism – but pushes his askew worldview even further (look out for the hybrid farmyard animals such as a chicken bulldog in Godwin's villa).

It's a filmmaker working at the peak of his pictorial powers and Poor Things deservedly picked up the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes.From the monster movie expressionism of Godwin's lab to the sumptuous interiors of the Europe- bound luxury liner and a castle that rises from a shoreline to the sky, production designers Shona Heath and James Price mash up architectural eras and design styles to truly eye-popping effect.

Oscar winner Robbie Ryan's cinematography switches from a striking black and white for Victorian London to a lush, colourful magical palette for Bella's adventures abroad (mirroring her awakening to the world). It perfectly showcases Holly Waddington's wildly imaginative costumes.

Surpassing her stellar turn in The Favourite, Oscar winner Stone delivers her most courageous work to date, offering a perfectly calibrated performance as a woman grappling with language, her body and the world rushing towards her at breakneck pace. Bella's journey of self-discovery raises some important themes – what happens when a woman refuses to become controlled or confined by men? – but Stone articulates them with the deftest, lightest touch.

Poor Things is a perfect showcase for the actor's underrated comedic gifts, both verbal (she is a hoot delivering Bella's unfiltered dialogue, such as "I must go punch that baby") or physical (a spontaneous dance in a hotel that has to be seen to be believed). For all the spectacle and craziness on screen, she still grounds the film in a touching emotional truth.

It is a career-defining role that turns Bella Baxter into an instant icon. You'll love getting to know her.   Ian Freer

In The Know


The production took over numerous soundstages at the Origo Studios in Budapest where they constructed London and Baxter's house, the ocean liner ship, the Paris square and brothel and the Alexandria hotel and slums. The city of Lisbon was created at Korda Studios in Budapest.


To help define Bella as a radical feminist, hair make-up and prosthetics designer Nadia Stacey paid close attention to the Victorian traditions of female hairstyling. As the convention of the time was for women to only wear their hair down at home, Stacey decided that Bella would never wear her hair up.


Composer Jerskin Fendrix used a lot of instrumentation involving air and mechanics to match what he calls "this kind of bizarre bionic thing going on." His score features pipe organs, uilleann pipes (think Irish bagpipes) plus a lot of synthesized breath and voice sounds.

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Poor Things is in cinemas from 12 Jan Book Now!