Yorgos Lanthimos is back, baby! He’s reteaming with Emma Stone for Poor Things, a Frankensteinian tale adapted from Scottish writer Alasdair Gray’s award-winning novel of the same name. Stone plays Bella, a woman brought back to life by a mad scientist, played, naturally, by Willem Dafoe.
The film also stars Mark Ruffalo—even in a 30-second teaser he is giving big Brothers Bloom energy, that is a VASTLY underappreciated film, and he is great in it—Ramy Youssef, Jerrod Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, Margaret Qualley, and Christopher Abbott (these last two are currently co-starring in the deeply bent erotic thriller, Sanctuary). This is a helluva cast, and Lanthimos is also working again with screenwriter Tony McNamara, who co-wrote The Favourite and Cruella, collaborators reuniting all the way around.
The film looks appropriately weird, with a more hand-crafted aesthetic than we’re used to seeing from Lanthimos. The look—and presence of Willem Dafoe—recalls Wes Anderson’s exquisite cinematic dollhouses, though Poor Things doesn’t look quite as purposely fake as Anderson’s worlds. It does have a stagey, theatrical look, though, and it will be interesting to see how that plays with Gray’s famously dirty writing.
I am a little surprised by the September 8 release date, though. Given that Lanthimos spent the 2010s rising in visibility, budgets, and A-list casts, and that The Favourite bagged nine Oscar nominations, including one win for Olivia Colman as Best Actress, you think his follow-up film, fronted by an A-list ensemble, would get a plummier release date than early September, after the summer movie season has ended but before we get into the meat of awards season.
The film is currently not tipped for Cannes next week, though that September release date means it could premiere at Venice before opening in theaters a week later. It looks like someone at Searchlight is hedging their bets, which is, again, strange given how successful The Favourite was. Or maybe it’s a sign that Lanthimos is back in his fully weird basket, which is fine by me. He made his bones making deeply weird and f-cked up films, if he’s got Emma Stone, an underrated Weird Actor, to dive headfirst into one of his bonkers imagined dimensions of pain and shame, I’m here for it.