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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Poor Things (MA) - 141 minutes

Imagine you have been pieced together … reborn from an unlikely construct, not like you were before.


In short, you are an experiment.


That is Bella Baxter’s (Emma Stone) lot.


The eminent, deeply scarred surgeon who brought her back to life is Dr Godwin Baxter (William Dafoe) – God, for short.


He himself is only kept alive by virtue of a machine that enables him to receive sustenance.

Although Bella looks like a fully grown young woman, her speech and actions do not reflect that.


She speaks a kind of pidgin English, she pees her pants, spits out her food and is prone to fits of pique.


For all intents and purposes, she is childlike.


She also walks with a decided limp.


Truth be told, Bella was “created” during radical surgery. 


Her head was sawed open and her brain removed, only to be replaced by that of her unborn child.


That happened followed a failed suicide attempt, during which Bella’s forebear jumped off a bridge into the ocean.


How is that for the start of a phantasmagorical adventure … and you ain’t heard the half of it!

Dr Baxter solicits the help of one of his students, Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef) to keep a close eye on Bella by collecting data on her.


You see, she is a work in progress, always kept inside by the doctor who has adopted her. She is a prisoner in her own home.


McCandles develops feelings for Bella and marriage is on the cards.


That is before she is swept away by debauched lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), who promises to show her the world.


Much follows, as Bella finds new found freedoms and her own voice, as she comes to stand for equality and liberation.


The discovery of sex and sexuality in its many guises plays a large part in her “education”.


Poor Things is a remarkable, mind-bending film – outrageous, eloquent, enticing and exciting.


It feeds off outrage. It sets out to provoke and shock, and that it most certainly does … handsomely.


Tony McNamara (Cruella) has adapted the movie from a novel by Scottish writer Alasdair Gray.


Pulling the strings is revelatory director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite).


Unfolding in both black and white, and colour, many of the outdoor visuals from cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Old Oak) are striking. They have an Alice in Wonderland feel.


Period costuming from Holly Waddington (Lady Macbeth) is evocative.

Emma Stone’s is a tour de force performance, as she “grows” her character as events transpire. 


William Dafoe is at pains to legitimise the unconscionable as a doctor (a man of science, pushing boundaries), who was treated shamefully by his own father.


Ramy Youssef is empathetic as the wide-eyed nice guy, trying to get a handle on what is going down.


Mark Ruffalo milks the arrogant toff for all he is worth and then some.


Poor Things deserves high praise for its wild plotting, buoyant characterisations and creative execution.


I was left giddy with delight.


Unquestionably, it is among the year’s boldest and finest offerings. Rush out to see it.


Rated MA, Poor Things scores a 9 out of 10.


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