One month after we saw the teaser for Poor Things, the film reuniting director Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, we now have a full trailer showing off Stone in full cinematic weirdo mode, Willem Dafoe as some kind of Dr. Frankenstein/Dr. Moreau hybrid, and Ramy Youssef and Mark Ruffalo as a couple of dudes. Youssef appears to play the role of investigator, probing the existence of Bella Baxter, the she-creature played by Stone. And Ruffalo is still giving off big Old Timey Dirtbag vibes, complete with Marlon Brando reference.
I have a high tolerance when it comes to Lanthimos’s cinema of weird—the best way to measure your own tolerance is to watch Dogtooth and then rate how much you want to claw your own eyes out on a scale of “not at all” to “what eyes? I got rid of those hours ago”—and while this doesn’t look like Dogtooth levels of weird (few things do, to be fair), it does look considerably weirder than Lanthimos’s last, and most commercially successful film, The Favourite. Maybe that’s why distributor Searchlight saddled the film with that unfortunate September 8 release date. That is really such an unfriendly time to release a film, the post-summer/pre-awards season doldrums, not to mention TIFF and Venice will be happening then, so the world entertainment press—and critics—will be busy.
Of course, Poor Things could still squeeze in a Venice premiere, and given the Emma Stone of it all, I won’t be surprised if Venice serves as their press event before opening weekend. It just says a lot about how Searchlight feels about this film, that they’re putting it out at such a time, all but guaranteeing it gets buried under festival press and a historically dead box office weekend.
But you know what Poor Things reminds me of? Barbie. In that Poor Things looks colorful and different, and I think audiences are craving that. I think a huge part of the response to just the Barbie trailers is how colorful and fun the movie looks, not actual interest in Barbie herself. Not that no one else is making colorful movies—Wes Anderson has Asteroid City coming this summer, and he always makes great use of color in his films—but for the past twenty years, the prevailing cinematic palette has been grimy and dark, despite frequent and loud audience complaints about the overabundance of desaturated, muddy films (and television).
Maybe the trend is finally dying, though? Maybe a year that contains new Wes Anderson, Yorgos Lanthimos playing with color, and Barbie will push us over the edge into something brighter?
I feel like everyone has been chasing David Fincher and his grey rooms for two decades—and misremembering what his movies actually look like, even his dullest office spaces are well lit and easy to discern—and I won’t be mad if filmmakers decide to take inspiration from like, construction paper for a while. Just splash some color around, we’re asking for so little!
Here is Poor Things co-star Margaret Qualley in Paris yesterday.