Cannes 2024: Kinds of Kindness movie review – Poor Things director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with another deeply strange tale

In the first, “The Death of R.M.F.”, Jesse Plemons plays Robert, a man who appears in thrall to Raymond (Willem Dafoe), who sets Robert’s agenda, from his diet to his sexual encounters.

In the second, “R.M.F. Is Flying”, Plemons plays Daniel, a cop whose wife Liz (Emma Stone) has gone missing; when she returns, he is convinced she is an imposter.

Finally, in “R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich”, Stone plays Emily, a woman who seeks out a cult leader (Dafoe) for a spiritual and sexual awakening.

Hong Chau in a still from Kinds of Kindness. Photo: Atsushi Nishijima

Inevitably, as is the case with most portmanteau films, one episode stands out – in this case “The Death of R.M.F.”, which has an unnerving quality to it.

The second instalment is the most shocking, featuring Liz and Daniel sitting around with friends (Mamoudou Athie and Margaret Qualley) watching a highly explicit sex tape the four of them made.

Bringing up the rear is the final short, which rather drags with its depictions of sweat lodges, bodily contamination, and Stone skidding around in her cool-looking Dodge Challenger.

With Hong Chau (The Whale) and Joe Alwyn (who featured in Lanthimos’ The Favourite) also appearing, it is undoubtedly a fine cast, one led by Plemons, who truly understands how to perform in the Lanthimos style.

Stone, now on her third movie with the Greek director, seems to relish the extremes she gets to go to.

(From left) Willem Dafoe, Jesse Plemons and Hong Chau in a still from Kinds of Kindness. Photo: Atsushi Nishijima

Quite what it all means, however, is another thing entirely. The characters seem to be in states of crisis, with miscarriage a common theme.

Looking at humanity in all its weirdness, Kinds of Kindness is a baffling film to take in, as abrasive as its musical score from Jerskin Fendrix, who performed similar tricks on Poor Things.

Certainly, compared to his more accessible films, such as The Favourite and Poor Things, this feels like Lanthimos at his most elusive and frustrating.

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