Star Rating:

Kinds of Kindness

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Actors: Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe

Release Date: Friday 28th June 2024

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 165 minutes

Across three individual stories, a man (Jesse Plemons) seeks to break free from his predetermined path set forth by his superior (Willem Dafoe), a cop (Jesse Plemons) questions if his wife is truly his wife (Emma Stone) after her return from a supposed drowning, and a woman (Emma Stone) searches for an extraordinary individual prophesied to become a renowned spiritual guide.

After the critical, commercial and Oscar success of 'Poor Things', it's a mark of confidence that Yorgos Lanthimos would put out something like 'Kinds of Kindness' as a follow-up.

Where 'Poor Things' had a broad appeal with audiences, scored another statuette for Emma Stone, and was uplifting in an offbeat kind of way, 'Kinds of Kindness' makes no attempt at being any of those things. For one, each chapter in the anthology movie is about the crushing weight of power and fate populated by broadly unlikeable and despicable people. The characters themselves speak in a stunted cadence, not unlike the jagged dialogue of 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'. Crucially, 'Kinds of Kindness' covers themes and concepts that Lanthimos has done before, and done with more clarity and consideration.

The first of the stories sees Jesse Plemons as a submissive office drone who is in hoc to Willem Dafoe and follows his every instruction, except for one which involves crossing a line he's unable to do. For Plemons, he wrestles with it while Dafoe is implacable in his command like Abraham and Isaac, but the thing resolves itself in comically trite fashion. The second story then switches gears to a quasi-fairytale involving changelings and marital bliss interspersed with gratuitous sex involving Margaret Qualley, Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons and Mamadou Athie, while the third story comes back to a religious theme with Dafoe marshalling a religious cult that seeks a purifying healer and sends Emma Stone out into the world in an outrageous sports car and a pant suit.

For Lanthimos, these are familiar ideas. 'The Lobster', 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer', and 'Dogtooth' all covered similar themes with the kind of surrealist, absurdist inclinations that make up the Greek Weird Wave. It's not so much that he's repeating himself, because he is, but it's more that 'Kinds of Kindness' never quite makes itself known. The themes just feel like they're loosely sketched, and it's relying on conceit and the weirdness to carry it along. There are some memorable moments and crazy imagery floating around it, but the way in which it's all so miserable and misanthropic about things keeps it from ever being anything other than a freakshow than a movie. You're watching it in a state of bizarre revulsion. Sure, it's an experience, but is it one you would ever want to repeat?