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Kwei’s Film Reviews-19--Oscar 2024: “Poor Things"

Updated: May 3

[The 2024 Oscars will take place on March 10, 2024.]

In my film reviews, I start with the benchmark of five stars and then deduct half or one point if the film falls short in any of the following categories: · Storyline · Screenplay · Acting · Direction · Character Arcs

The reviews are my opinions alone.

A white man with wavy hair and a mustache places his face next to a white woman with long dark parted hair and dark eyebrows
A lot of blood and weirdness in this movie

Plot Overview

In an ambitious yet bewildering cinematic endeavor, "Poor Things" brings to screen the peculiar tale of Bella Baxter (portrayed by Emma Stone), a woman who undergoes a radical surgical procedure to have the brain of her unborn child implanted into her. This surreal premise sets the stage for a journey of rediscovery as Bella grapples with relearning basic human functions such as speech and movement, navigating a world that seems as confounded as the audience watching her story unfold.

Cast Highlights

As Bella Baxter, the protagonist with a child’s brain in a woman's body, Emma Stone embarks on a bewildering journey of self-discovery and existence. Mark Ruffalo plays Duncan Wedderburn, a character entangled in Bella's chaotic life, delivering a bizarre performance. Other notable actors, like Willem Defoe, contribute to the ensemble, each adding layers to the film's complex narrative tapestry.

Behind The Scenes

Mark Ruffalo expressed reservations about his suitability for the role of Duncan Wedderburn. The script, crafted by Tony McNamara, initially did not resonate with him, leading to doubts about his casting. Ruffalo recalls a moment of uncertainty, "I said to [director Yorgos Lanthimos], 'I don't think I'm right for this.'" Lanthimos's response was a mixture of amusement and assurance, firmly believing in Ruffalo's fit for the role despite the actor's skepticism.


The film's aspiration to transcend conventional storytelling and genre boundaries culminates in a disjointed and perplexing narrative. Mark Ruffalo should have stuck to his original instincts: his portrayal of Duncan Wedderburn was particularly jarring, with a strange accent that was supposed to be British but wasn't. The film treads a fine line between innovation and incoherence, leaving bewilderment over its erratic plot and controversial themes. Its attempt to weave together elements of dark comedy, drama, and surrealism results in a narrative morass that is as challenging to categorize as it is to comprehend. The content includes misogyny, multiple wanton, gratuitous, distasteful, and unnecessary sex scenes, graphic human cadaver dissections, and one instance of deliberate animal cruelty.

Wrap-up and Rating

"Poor Things" may have been meant as an audacious cinematic journey, but it staggers significantly along the way and collapses into the ditch. The ambitious storyline, screenplay, and character arcs falter under the weight of their own complexity, while the direction struggles to steer the film in the direction of coherent storytelling. Though earnest in effort, the acting, with the exception of Emma Stone, is marred by inconsistent performances and questionable casting choices, notably Ruffalo's ill-fitting role.

Bottom Line

In the final analysis, "Poor Things" emerges as a film that, despite its Oscar nomination, may not resonate with all audiences. Its experimental nature and contentious content might alienate viewers seeking a more traditional cinematic experience. With its labyrinthine plot and controversial themes, this film might be an artistic venture for some, but regrettably, for others, it represents a missed opportunity to engage and entertain. It has, however, earned controversy if not an Oscar win.

Look out for my Oscar predictions in the next couple of days!

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Thank you for your feedback. Yes, the streamers take advantage of us at Oscar time!



Your review has convinced me that, more than ever, I don't want to see this repugnant movie. I appreciate your insights. Now I await Amazon or some other streamer lowering the cost of American Fiction, which I definitely DO want to see.

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