Poor things, or the poor. The title is taken from Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel, but we are these poor creatures, we men, crushed and hopelessly defeated by the feminine self-determination of Bella Baxter, the preeminent Emma Stone, already nominated for an Oscar. This is his second time with Yorgos Lanthimos after Most lovely (2018) and – no offense to her colleague Margot Robbie – Poor thingsin the “Venice 80” competition and in our cinemas from January 25, 2024 – this is all that Barbie That did not happen.
Frankly and even insanely graduation film, which del empowerment of women makes alpha and omega, resurrecting the Frankenstein being and “bending” it to the feminist agenda here and now: the problem is, it means only for us, the weaker sex, it works, and how. Because he is cheerful and ironic, dissolute and passionate, maximalist and merciless: he takes no prisoners, half the sky.
Victoria rushes into the Thames, she is pregnant. Bring her back to life the mad scientist Godwin, for her the only god Baxter (Willem Dafoe), who implants the fetal brain. Bella Baxter, her new identity, learns quickly, gains coordination and more: the desire to be free from God and discover the world. She elopes with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a libertine lawyer, who initiates her into the joys of sex (autoeroticism was already satisfying) and takes her first to Lisbon, then on a cruise, in short, around the world.
Who does not fit in a room or even in a bedroom: Duncan has nothing to offer except sex, especially to those who strive for equality – today we would say gender equality – and emancipation. Bella breaks it, reads Emerson, wants and tries to understand the nature of sex, money, power. She does her job like the “poor thing” that she is: the mother of her brain and, if you like, the daughter of her brain, resurrected by the masculine, must find the full expression of the feminine. She will pass by a brothel in Paris, free from prejudice, but in due time to return to the bed of God: the past, according to the proverb, does not pass, but the future belongs to her, which prepares an anatomy exam – and though a goat, it will be not in wool.
We know Lanthimos and often appreciate him: here he mixes wide-angle and gothic CGI, impossible toning and Shelley’s heritage, filming Stone without hiding his hand. It is an ideological and (operational) attack on patriarchy, mercilessly ridiculed and ridiculed, surgically reduced to minimal conditions: the woman who lived twice, absit and inuria verbiswe have it.
But before he sends us out to graze, he takes us for a ride, irresistibly sexy, inescapably dysfunctional, deadly self-programming: a bit of Burton’s Corpse Bride, baby Billie Eilish and a bit of Friday, he perfects sex education and sentimental education, avoiding bovarism and all, or almost, -isms to become the measure and dictatorship of the world. All we have to do is serve her gin, the last man standing.