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Poor Things - Everything You Need To Know

Yorgos Lanthimos is back with another twisted and hilarious tall tale. After directing 2018's "The Favourite," the creative has mostly laid low, with his only project in the last few years being the short film "Bleat." Now, after five years, the director is set to return to the big screen with "Poor Things." With his latest, Lanthimos is diving straight into the world of sci-fi, with a Victorian twist. As one of the film industry's most sought-after directors, Lanthimos has assembled a world-class cast for his latest.

Describing Lanthimos' work is difficult, though it's fair to classify a decent amount of it as absurd. While speaking with the official Cannes Film Festival website, Lanthimos opened up about how his genre-bending films are treated as experiments. "I take a situation where I explore extreme conditions and see how people react," the director said. He continued by pointing out how this allows the intrinsic nature of humans to unravel, which in turn leads to different responses. "That's why I like creating ambiguous films," Lanthimos continued. "It allows the viewers to be directly involved and to form their own opinion, without deciding for them."

With "Poor Things," Lanthimos is definitely gunning for experimental and ambitious, blending together Victorian-era politics, sci-fi aesthetics, and complex narrative beats that should leave audiences stunned.

When will Poor Things release?

Yorgos Lanthimos' "Poor Things" is set to release stateside on September 8 2023. With a fall release, "Poor Things" is clearly gunning to be a part of the 2024 Oscars conversation. An early September release allows the twisted "Frankenstein"-like riff to have a considerable headstart in terms of dominating awards season chatter. As of this writing, the film isn't on track to debut during any film festivals. That could change, however. Lanthimos has previously debuted films at both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. With the latter taking place in late August, it's a strong possibility that the Emma Stone-starrer could screen early for critics at the prestigious Italian film festival.

When the film does release in early September, it does face competition at the box office. "Poor Things" will debut alongside "The Nun 2" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3." Per The Numbers, "The Nun" grossed over $360 million worldwide back in 2018. "MBFGW 3," meanwhile, is the latest release in the beloved rom-com franchise. With its niche themes and jarring visuals, it's possible that "Poor Things" will be the least successful of the trio at the box office. That, however, shouldn't matter, as Lanthimos' works have continually pushed boundaries. And come awards season, it's all but possible that "Poor Things" could walk away with gold.

What is the plot of Poor Things?

As expected, "Poor Things" is another surreal and strange project for Yorgos Lanthimos. Concrete details are ultimately slim in the film, but it's clear that the movie is influenced by Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." The project follows Bella (Emma Stone), a young woman who is brought back to life by Dr. Baxter (Willem Dafoe). Ready to live her own life, she embarks on an adventure with Duncan (Mark Ruffalo), a lawyer. From the brief teaser trailer, it's clear that this is just the surface of what's to come.

"Poor Things" is based on Alasdair Gray's novel of the same name, which hit store shelves in 1992. Described by Goodreads as "a postmodern revision of Frankenstein," Gray's "Poor Things" was a critical triumph and has since emerged as one of the Scottish author's most popular works. The adaptation is penned by Tony McNamara, who previously wrote Lanthimos' "The Favourite."

Who is starring in Poor Things?

"Poor Things" boasts an impressive and diverse array of talent, making it Yorgos Lanthimos' most star-studded cast yet. At the heart of the film is Bella Baxter, played by the Oscar-winning Emma Stone. "Poor Things" marks Stone's third collaboration with Lanthimos — they previously worked together on 2018's "The Favourite" and the short film "Bleat." While speaking at a press conference in Greece, Stone gushed about the auteur (via Greek Reporter), saying, "I could talk for hours about the things I like in working with Yorgos." Stone and Lanthimos clearly mesh well, as the duo is set to collaborate for a fourth time with "And," per Deadline.

"Poor Things" also stars Willem Dafoe as the scientist who brings Stone's Bella back to life. Dafoe is also on track to star in Lanthimos' "And." The director has tapped Hulk actor "Mark Ruffalo" to play a lawyer who joins Stone's character on her journey. Other key cast members of the star-studded affair include comedian Ramy Youssef, and "On The Count of Three" stars Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Abbott. Margaret Qualley is also in "Poor Things," though details on her character (as well as others) remain slim.

Who is directing Poor Things?

The Oscar-nominated Yorgos Lanthimos is the captivating mind behind "Poor Things." There's a strong chance that you've seen some of the maverick director's previous works. The Greek creative first rose to prominence with 2009's "Dogtooth," which became the country's fifth film to receive an Oscar nomination. Following the international acclaim that came with "Dogtooth," Lanthimos found his way to English-language cinema with 2015's Oscar-nominated "The Lobster." The film, which starred Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell, is described by /Film as "a spiky satire of modern courtship" that's both "bleakly funny" and "heartbreaking."

Following "The Lobster," Lanthimos once again teamed up with Farrell for "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," another award favorite. It wasn't until 2018's "The Favourite" that Lanthimos found himself working with Emma Stone. To date, the director has nabbed four Oscar nods as both a director and screenwriter. While speaking with Pop Matters, Lanthimos opened up about the trajectory of his career and why his dream of becoming a director was not feasible. "There wasn't a defining moment, and especially growing up in Greece, having a film career was not close to something a young kid could think of," the director said. "It was not even realistic [...] There are barely any proper film schools [in Greece] and so for me it was a gradual journey."

Is there a trailer for Poor Things?

Searchlight Pictures, the distributor behind "Poor Things," released a brief teaser trailer for the sci-fi film on May 11, five months before the film's September release. Running at just over thirty seconds, the teaser trailer is slim on details but big on ideas, painting vivid images of what audiences can expect from Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone's latest. 

The trailer kicks off with Stone's Bella Baxter presumably getting resurrected, evoking imagery from previous projects that have featured Frankenstein's monster. As Baxter is shocked alive, cheery and inquisitive music begins to play. Next, Baxter's eyes presumably adjust to the sunlight, as she's seen putting on sunglasses outside, staring at blimps and other retro-futuristic methods of transportation that dominate the sky. The skyline transitions to a body of water, with Baxter walking on a ship that emits dark yellow steam against a lush multi-shaded blue sky. 

As the music begins to swell, Lanthimos' traditional madness begins to show. Stone is solo-dancing in a ballroom, an image which is then followed by introductions of Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe's characters. Next, Ramy Youssef smiles, and Jerrod Carmichael's bougie-looking character rests on the deck of a ship. "I'm finding being alive fascinating," Stone's character says, which is then followed by her spitting out food. Shots of a yellow castle are then followed by Stone and Ruffalo's characters quarreling, which leads to Baxter slapping her companion. "Ow," Ruffalo's character says, ending the teaser.