A Detailed Look at “Kinds of Kindness” – Yorgos Lanthimos’s Intriguing Triptych

Yorgos Lanthimos, known for his unique and often unsettling cinematic style, has teamed up once more with Emma Stone in “Kinds of Kindness.” This film, which follows his critically acclaimed “Poor Things,” is a three-part narrative exploring themes of control and submission. Despite its ambitious scope, the central theme remains somewhat elusive, making the film a challenging yet intriguing watch.

Anna Hanks from Austin, Texas, USA, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, and Willem Dafoe lead a talented cast that includes Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie, and Joe Alwyn. Each actor takes on different roles across the three interconnected stories, each dripping with Lanthimos’s signature blend of surrealism and dark humor. Fans of his earlier works, like “Dogtooth” and “The Lobster,” will find familiar territory here.

The film’s first chapter, “The Death Of RMF,” introduces Robert, played by Jesse Plemons. Robert is a man living under the strict and bizarre control of his boss and lover, Raymond, portrayed by Willem Dafoe. Raymond dictates every aspect of Robert’s life through daily handwritten notes. However, when Robert defies Raymond’s extreme request, the fallout is severe. His wife, Sarah, played by Hong Chau, reacts with understandable fury upon learning about Robert’s subservient relationship with Raymond. As Robert grapples with the loss of Raymond’s favor, he fears being replaced by Rita, played by Emma Stone.

In the second story, “RMF is Flying,” we find Plemons and Stone in new roles. Plemons is Daniel, a cop struggling with his mental health, and Stone is Liz, his wife, who has recently been rescued from an ocean expedition gone wrong. As Daniel’s relief turns to suspicion, he begins to doubt whether Liz is truly his wife. This chapter delves into the psychological horror of identity and control, manifesting in gruesome body horror.

The final chapter, “RMF Eats A Sandwich,” follows cult members Andrew (Plemons) and Emily (Stone) on their quest for a woman prophesied to raise the dead. They navigate the manipulative demands of their leaders, Omi and Aka, played by Dafoe and Chau. The leaders’ stringent expectations and the cult’s bizarre rituals underscore the overarching theme of control and submission.

Lanthimos collaborates with screenwriter Efthimis Filippou, his longtime partner in crafting peculiar and thought-provoking stories. The film’s score by Jerskin Fendrix adds another layer of oddity, combining discordant piano with dramatic choral music.

While “Kinds of Kindness” is filled with moments of dark humor, it often feels emotionally distant and overly stylized. The film’s setting in New Orleans is hardly recognizable, adding to its sense of urban anonymity. The film challenges the audience’s patience and endurance, much like the characters within its narrative struggle with control and subjugation. This intricate connection between the film’s content and Lanthimos’s directorial approach creates a complex viewing experience, pushing viewers to the edge of their comfort zones.

Despite its length and occasional tediousness, “Kinds of Kindness” commands respect for its audacity and commitment to its unique vision. Lanthimos’s work continues to captivate, provoke, and challenge audiences, solidifying his place as a distinctive voice in contemporary cinema.


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