top of page
  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

Kinds of Kindness (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jun 27


Starring Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, Hunter Schafer, Merah Benoit, Tessa Bourgeois, Kencil Mejia, Thaddeus Burbank, Suzanna Stone, Jerskin Fendrix, Nikki Chamberlin, Christian M. Letellier, Lawrence Johnson, Lindsey G. Smith, Kevin Guillot, Ivy Ray and Yorgos Lanthimos.

Screenplay by Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthimis Filippou.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.

Distributed by Searchlight Pictures. 164 minutes. Rated R.

Sometimes you walk out of a movie and wonder what the fuck you just watched. I had that feeling leaving the screening of Kinds of Kindness. And the weirdest part is that I kind of liked it.

After all, you had to know that the films of Yorgos Lanthimos are going to be off the charts weird after watching Poor Things last year. And not only is Lanthimos back, but multiple cast members of last year’s film are also – Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley.

Even though Kinds of Kindness made even less sense than Poor Things, I actually enjoyed it more. Then again, I seem to be one of about five critics who didn’t really like Poor Things. (I appreciated it artisticly more than I enjoyed it.) But still, for as massively odd as Kinds of Kindness is, it was oddly enjoyable – sort of like an intellectual, surreal version of an old Stephen King compilation movie like Cat’s Eye or Creepshow.

Because Kinds of Kindness is not a single narrative, it is a group of three loosely-similar short films – all with the same basic cast of seven playing completely different characters in very different, and yet somewhat thematically similar, storylines.

For quite some time after watching Kinds of Kindness I was trying to make the connections, but they still elude me. All they truly have in common is a deadpan obsession with kinky sex, violence and cruelty. (This is the second straight Lanthimos film in which Emma Stone has had to simulate masturbation for the camera, whatever that means.)

Well, the three films sort of revolve around a character who only goes by his initials R.M.F. (played by the director), who does not speak once in the (extremely long) run time of the movie. R.M.F. randomly pops up periodically and is attacked and killed in dramatically horrific ways and is portrayed as a corpse throughout much of the film. (Maybe this is supposed to be a surreal, intellectual Weekend at Bernie’s.) He’s also the only character who is the same throughout all three segments, although in a weird way, he’s more of a red herring plot device – sort of like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

The first segment revolves around Robert (Jesse Plemons), a tightly wound guy who has a kind of sketchy but ideal job with an older, rich man named Richard (Willem Dafoe). The only true rule of the position is that Robert can’t question Richard’s orders, no matter how much they may offend his moral compass. When Robert finally hits his limit and disobeys, he loses his job. In desperation, Robert is willing to do anything to get the job back, even sabotage Rita (Emma Stone), the woman who may be in line to replace him.

Segment two revolves around Daniel (Plemons) a policeman whose wife Liz (Stone) has disappeared in an apparent plane crash. Daniel has been concerning his friends Neil and Martha (Mamoudou Athie and Margaret Qualley) with his obsessive determination to find her. When Liz is found alive on a desert island, she is returned home. However, Daniel becomes determined that this is not his real wife and starts giving her increasingly disturbing tests to prove her identity.

The final part is about two members of a religious cult, Emily and Andrew (Stone and Plemons) are trying to find a miracle woman who has the power to potentially raise the dead and purify the tainted, under the orders of the cult leaders (Dafoe and Hong Chau). When their attempt to find the woman is unsuccessful, Emily is thrown out of the cult. On the outside looking in, Emily thinks she may have finally found the woman – a veterinarian (Qualley) who has no idea of her potential powers. Therefore Emily becomes desperate to get the woman to her former cult.

None of the stories really make sense, but they are not supposed to. They are meant to be inscrutable and shocking. Then periodically, completely out of the blue oddball touches like Qualley doing a very poorly sung version of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” at an extremely inappropriate time.

I’m not sure what exactly Kinds of Kindness was trying to impart to me or what it was trying to say. (Another reviewer at the screening suggested that it was kind of like taking an acid trip, and that’s as good an explanation as any.) But damned if I didn’t mostly like it. Sometimes that’s good enough.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2024 All rights reserved. Posted: June 20, 2024.


bottom of page