Combustible Celluloid Review - Kinds of Kindness (2024), Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos, Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, Hunter Schafer
Combustible Celluloid
With: Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, Hunter Schafer
Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
MPAA Rating: R for strong/disturbing violent content, strong sexual content, full nudity and language
Running Time: 165
Date: 06/21/2024

Kinds of Kindness (2024)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Identity Thieves

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Due to its sloth-like pacing, Yorgos Lanthimos's strange, dry, and very long comedy Kinds of Kindness doesn't quite achieve the punch its three stories could have pulled off, but it at least manages more than a few offbeat giggles.

We are treated to three strange stories. In "The Death of R.M.F.," Robert (Jesse Plemons) seems to be entirely under the control of Raymond (Willem Dafoe), who dictates every single detail of his day, including what he wears and eats. He is tasked with crashing his vehicle into another, but he fails in his task. When Raymond insists that he try it again, Robert refuses for the first time, leading to new problems.

In "R.M.F. is Flying," the wife of police officer Daniel (Plemons) has gone missing. When the wife, Liz (Emma Stone), turns up again, she no longer seems like her old self. And in "R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich," Emily (Stone) and Andrew (Plemons) are members of a cult who are tasked with finding a special woman with healing powers. When Emily becomes "contaminated" and is kicked out, she must stop at nothing to find her and win her way back.

Co-written and directed by Lanthimos — who is no stranger to either excess or weirdness — Kinds of Kindness feels more like an offhand tribute to David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick than it does his previous works Poor Things or The Favourite. Performances are deliberately stilted as in Lynch's movies, and the plinking piano score and eerie chanting chorus recalls that of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

And while Lanthimos usually guides his casts to Oscar nominations, these characters are too thin to really be memorable. His loyal favorites Stone, Dafoe, and Margaret Qualley (all from Poor Things) return, and, along with newcomers Plemons, Hong Chau, and Mamoudou Athie, seem to simply offer themselves up for whatever he suggests, no matter how bizarre, and no matter whether it involves nudity, or stunts, or wardrobe, or what have you.

And yet there's something that really clicks about the movie's humor, much of it centered around the "R.M.F." character, whose name is in each of the three titles, but is only marginally involved, and never even speaks. (Stone also gets in laughs with another memorable dance routine.)

Above all, Lanthimos and co-screenwriter Efthimis Filippou are wise enough to not give anything away at the beginning of each story, so that they immediately intrigue with their peculiarities. The slow pace of Kinds of Kindness unfortunately gives viewers time to occasionally get a few jumps ahead, but there's still a savory satisfaction at the end of each one.

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