Kinds of Kindness – Film Review

Robert (Jesse Plemons) holds little control over his own life.

From his relationship to Sarah (Hong Chau) to his experiences in the world, at large day in and day, out he is on someone else’s puppet strings. That person is his boss Raymond (Willem Dafoe) a generous man who has given Robert everything and only asks for one thing in return. Complete and utter devotion up to and including potential murder.

Daniel (also Jesse Plemons) is a police officer having a mental breakdown with his wife Liz (Emma Stone) lost at sea. When she is rescued and returns home however, things seem off. Little things like her demeanour and her shoe size. Perhaps it’s nothing, but then what is Liz willing to do to prove that she is herself? What is Daniel willing to ask her to do?

Finally, Andrew (Jesse Plemons) and Emily (Emma Stone) belong to a cult. Travelling at the orders of their leader Omi (Willem Dafoe), they search for a particular woman with a special ability. When Rebecca (Margaret Qualley) claims that her twin sister is the woman they seek, they’re unsure how to proceed. Perhaps it’s just yet another false lead or maybe this is the prodigious spiritual leader their cult has been looking for?

Coming from the “Greek weird wave”, filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos continues to make a splash with his eclectic filmography. His two previous films ‘The Favourite‘ and ‘Poor Things‘ won Best Leading Actress Oscars for their leads, Olivia Colman and Emma Stone, while Poor Things‘ outlandish design resulted in a slew of technical Oscars as well. His latest film, Kinds of Kindness is described as a “triptych fable”, or in other words an anthology piece consisting of three stories.

Refreshingly after making his most ambitiously film yet with Poor Things, his latest offering Kinds of Kindness is a much more scaled back affair. The film doesn’t feature the outlandish visual style but retains the absolutely bonkers sense of storytelling that Lanthimos has become known for. The worlds contained within the film appear not unlike our own, before slowly growing more twisted. Each story in this fable seemed more bizarre and disturbing than the last.

Kinds of Kindness is not exactly an easy film to unpack. You’ll may be left scratching your head wondering what it all means (if anything). There is very little tissue connecting the trio of stories beyond a single character whose fate is interwoven between them. The stories all revolve around hopeless devotion and the loss of personal autonomy. But even then, this may just be me grasping at straws, such is the confusing extent of this film. The common thread, if there is one, may just as well lay in the arbitrary references to omelettes or injured feet which each story shares!

While Poor Things was full of eye candy, Kinds of Kindness‘ novelty comes more from the multiple roles each actor performs. With particular focus on Stone and Plemons who, by the third story, have completely swapped places as the lead protagonist. Dafoe, Qualley, and Chau also play diverse characters, with some being given more to sink their teeth into than others. Disappointingly, there are some performers playing trinity roles but they are so inconsequential that it’s hard to even notice.

Kinds of Kindness may be hard for some viewers to approach with all its peculiarities. At times, it can be both hilarious and fascinating. You’ll be turning to the person next to you with a “what are we watching!?” look on your face. Recommended for the avid cinephile, Kinds of Kindness is a worthwhile watch, however it really depends on your outlook of film appreciation. You may find yourself keen to go back into to discover its secrets, or you may be left wondering what was the point of the last three hours. I felt more of the latter.

Kinds of Kindness is in cinemas from July 11.

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