Is ‘Kinds of Kindness’ Yorgos Lanthimos’ most cryptic film yet?

“Poor Things” director has audiences scratching their heads at his newest (and strangest?) film

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: (L-R) Ed Guiney, Mamoudou Athie, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Merah Benoit, Jesse Plemons, Joe Alwyn, Yorgos Lanthimos, Emma Stone, Matthew Greenfield, President, Searchlight Pictures, and Andrew Lowe attend the "Kinds Of Kindness" New York Premiere at Museum of Modern Art on June 20, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images) (Dia Dipasupil, 2024 Getty Images)

Anybody familiar with Yorgos Lanthimos’s film catalog knows that normalcy just isn’t his style. While the massively popular “Poor Things” from 2023 introduced audiences worldwide to his unique methodology for directing, there are many other aspects (especially some that carry much darker implications) present in his other films such as “The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.”

These plot devices make for films that are more so the side of Lanthimos that we see in his new, nearly three hour film from this past weekend, “Kinds of Kindness.” Here’s what you should know before you buy a ticket.

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Most people would be lying if they said they know for certain what this movie is about, at least from fresh off their first viewing. What I can tell you is that the film is split up into three different stories.

The first is about a man, Robert (Jesse Plemons) being manipulated and controlled by the wealthy Raymond (Willem Dafoe). The second is about Daniel (also Jesse Plemmons) being suspicious that his recently returned wife, Liz (Emma Stone), is not who she says she is. Finally, the third story is about Emily (also Emma Stone), trying to find a certain savior/messiah figure for her obscure cult. Quite clearly, all of these stories contain themes that err on the side of oddity, with a heaping helping of “Lanthimisms” sprinkled in, and are greatly enhanced by the uncanny performances of the actors.

As in true Lanthimos style, many details throughout the film are seemingly put there to make the audience cock their heads, making them think simply “why?”. But we must remember who we’re dealing with here, and that Lanthimos has proved himself far beyond “hack” status.

Each detail is worthy of the audience’s consideration, and all of the “why?” moments are surely intended to fit the narrative, no matter how off-putting or cryptic it seems. Each story is clearly meant to represent some sort of metaphor, all tied together to match a specific theme, and it is up to the audience to figure it out if we wish to benefit from watching the film.

One thing that’s an absolute certainty is that this film is meant to provoke thought in the audience. If you’re looking for a film to intrigue your curiosity that might take some time beyond the theater doors to fully understand, then this film is perfect for you. However, if you prefer a quick “one and done” type of theater experience, I’d suggest sticking to other new films coming out such as “A Quiet Place: Day One,” or “Inside Out 2.”

This film will likely leave you with more questions than answers, but may be more rewarding upon coming to the answer to those questions. One thing is for certain, and that is that Yorgos Lanthimos is back to his old, strange and cryptic tricks.

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