June 24, 2024

REEL | Emma Stone Acts Out 'Kinds of Kindness'

"Skinny men are the most ridiculous thing there is."
Emma Stone Jesse Plemons Yorgos Lanthimos | Kinds of Kindness
Searchlight Pictures / Element Pictures
Celebrated idiosyncratic auteur Yorgos Lanthimos returns to his absurdist dark comedy roots for an anthology of short films stitched together in Kinds of Kindness. Described as a "triptych fable," the film consists of three surreally distinct but disconnected stories with actors playing different thematically related roles in each chapter. Imagine back-to-back episodes of something like The Twilight Zone with the same recurring cast.

Starring Jesse Plemons and Emma Stone, who alternate as the primary figures in each anthology, Kinds of Kindness sticks to Lanthimos' penchant for feel-bad hostility while mining hilarious visual humour driven by his purposely stilted, monotone dialogue. By further empowering his stable of mostly American actors to stretch themselves as multiple characters within the same film, the director's storytelling only gets more misanthropic yet refreshingly exciting.

Plemons fits comfortably within the Lanthimos canon of cast members alongside Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, and Hong Chau who ape his deadpan sensibilities of comic everyman exasperation. Lanthimos and his Dogtooth co-writer Efthimis Filippou have evolved their sadistic adult tales about the follies of humanity at extreme lengths also evidenced in their other non-Greek works.

Kinds of Kindness works best when it finely balances Lanthimos' confounding sense of contemporary unreality through each of his three insidiously baffling moral fables about the modern structures of daily life stretched to their breaking points. How he controls his imagery, performances, and direction heightens the telling of each chapter through his trademark style of abstract cinematic starkness. In many ways, it's the most Lanthimos-ian of any of his films thus far.


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