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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

‘Poor Things’ adds feminist flare to repurposed ‘Frankenstein’

Left+to+right%3A+Emma+Stone+and+Mark+Ruffalo+from+a+scene+of+Poor+Things.
Searchlight Pictures
Left to right: Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo from a scene of “Poor Things.”

Invoking the story of “Frankenstein” in its use of a mad scientist bringing about the creation of a person in an adult body, the Oscar award-winning film ‘Poor Things’ takes a unique approach to Mary Shelley’s classic while maintaining the same thematic scheme.  

Rather than the traditional stitched-together monster we are familiar with from the novel, director Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Poor Things” follows Emma Stone’s Bella, who begins the film in a very childlike manner hinting at her peculiar origins. From her perspective, the film highlights both patriarchal and cultural norms’ critiques.  

While her childish outlook offers the film some comedic moments, the speed of her development from this vantage point allows her to point out the sheer absurdity in the expectations that everyone else accepts.  

Bella ultimately develops into a very independent woman and is determined to seek new experiences. This freedom usually comes at a cost to the many men in her life. Whether it be the overprotective father figure played by Willem Dafoe who sees her more as his creation, so much so that he has Bella refer to him as “God,” or Mark Ruffalo’s very pronounced Duncan who develops a fondness for her that quickly turns to jealously; Bellas manages to free herself from their perceptions of her to form her own. 

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This message of control over one’s own experiences is at the heart of the film. Bella being an ‘unnatural’ creation of a scientist makes her origin someone else’s, yet it seemingly frees her to have the ability to live as she wants and go on the adventures that we see throughout the film.  

While the film delivers standout performances from both Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo, along with an incredible set design in this steampunk-like period piece that further punctuates its quirky tone, the film disappoints in humor.  

For being such a thought-provoking film, much of the humor was gags centered around Bella’s unusual behavior that is too repetitive especially in the film’s first half.  

The film’s ending fails to tie up the themes it was going for, as it seems to directly contradict some elements in an abrupt and jarring way despite presenting the ending as a satisfying conclusion.  

“Poor Things” is available to watch in theaters now. 

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