KINDS OF KINDNESS Review: Everybody's Looking For Something

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
KINDS OF KINDNESS Review: Everybody's Looking For Something

Everybody’s looking for something in Kinds of Kindness, director Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest attempt to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Three tales of lost souls on a desperate search for meaning and wholeness take the audience on a wild ride through the weirdest passages of the mind. Kinds of Kindness hearkens back to Lanthimos early years in the international spotlight as an outré arthouse enfant terrible. Viewers aching for something different and challenging in their cinema, has Yorgos got a gift for you.

Seeing as this triptych is nearly three hours long in total, attempting to lay out plot details for each segment would be not only entirely too cumbersome for a review, but would also do an injustice to the experience of the film. In the simplest of terms, the first story follows a man as he attempts to break free from an overbearing boss, followed by a police officer who senses something wrong when his wife mysteriously returns after having been presumed dead, and finally a woman who left her family to join a cult seeks out a prophesied woman with the power to raise the dead. However, if you are familiar with Lanthimos, you know that’s only a starting point for some of the strangest things you’ll ever witness.

Yorgos Lanthimos is closer than ever to being a household name after the multiple Academy Awards won by last year’s Poor Things – a very strange film – and he’s using this growing clout in the noblest manner possible: to make very weird movies with very famous people. Anyone who first took notice with 2018’s The Favourite, was introduced to a filmmaker who was applying an adventurous sense of propriety to an already existing story. A wonderful film, but it wasn’t really the director speaking in his own voice.

Kinds of Kindness marks a reunion of Lanthimos and his frequent screenwriting partner, Efthimis Filippou, who has been a part of this story since the filmmaker’s 2010 breakout film, Dogtooth. The pair collaborated through Lanthimos’s transition to Hollywood with the original stories of The Lobster (2015) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) before taking a break for the director to tackle a pair of adaptations. With Filippou’s return, Lanthimos gets back to his roots as a formalist filmmaker with a lot to say, and very clear ideas about how to say it.

Consistent through the three stories that make up the film are the lead cast of Emma Stone and Jesse Plemons, with strong support from Willem Dafoe, Hong Chau, Margaret Qualley, and Mamoudou Athie. Each puts in staggeringly intricate performances in their multiple roles throughout the film, by turns arch and emotionally fraught depending on the moment. Masterfully puppeteered by Lanthimos, whose directorial vision is crystal clear throughout, sometimes to an aggravating degree, but admirably steadfast in its singularity.

While each scene is played with deadly seriousness, and each line is delivered without an ounce of irony, there is a playfulness about the Kinds of Kindness. There is humor in the ridiculousness of the stories, the grotesque violence, and the sudden and explicit sexuality that weave themselves through each of the stories. There’s a malleable energy about Emma Stone and Jesse Plemons that lends itself ideally to Lanthimos’s unique vision; an energy that Stone harnessed to an Academy Award in Poor Things, and a flexibility that Plemons has shown over and over throughout the years.

The formality of Kinds of Kindness is definitely not going to land with the same wide audiences that may have enjoyed The Favourite and Poor Things, this film keeps its audience at a distance. However, there is a purity about the film and its confidence that is mesmerizing, even if it may take a hefty chunk of the run time for those unfamiliar with Lanthimos to get on its wavelength. One of the lovely things about Kinds of Kindness is that it doesn’t seem like Lanthimos really cares what the audience thinks. The film is not about us, it’s about him and his obsessions, his concerns, his fantasies and nightmares, and we are just privileged to be invited to get a peek into his neuroses and that’s a ticket I’ll take every time.

Kinds of Kindness

  • Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Efthimis Filippou
  • Emma Stone
  • Jesse Plemons
  • Willem Dafoe
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Yorgos LanthimosEfthimis FilippouEmma StoneJesse PlemonsWillem DafoeComedyDrama

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