"Kinds of Kindness" Film Review

Kinds of Kindness (2024) - IMDb

Kinds of Kindness

Rating: 3/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    I'll admit it - I wasn't as big of a fan of Poor Things as tons of other people were. I appreciated what director Yorgos Lanthimos was going for, and I do think it was a great film, but it didn't speak to me like it did to others. I thought some of the film dragged and I thought the sexual nature of the film went too far at times. Therefore, I wasn't really looking forward to Kinds of Kindness as many others had been. Sure, I was excited to see what kind of crazy film Lanthimos has come up with this time, but I started hearing many mixed responses to the film when it opened in select theaters. After watching the three-hour-long film, one where you definitely feel the length of the runtime, I have concluded that I have mixed feelings about it as well. While I do think this movie is masterfully shot and has some fantastic performances by its ensemble cast over the course of the three short films, I feel like the writing is simply not there, and the stories really drag the film down in certain aspects. 

    The film is split up into three hour long segments, titled "The Death of R.M.F.", "R.M.F. is Flying", and "R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich". The first film revolves around a man who wants to break free from his preset path by his employer, but realizes it's easier said than done when his wife goes missing. The second film revolves around a cop who now questions everything when his wife returns after a supposed drowning out at sea. Then finally, the third film revolves around a woman who is in search of a twin who can bring the dead back to life to serve as her cult's leader. Each film may focus around the same themes, but do not show any connection at all to one another (besides one moment at the very end of the film). 

    When analyzing this film from the three short films inside of it, it's no secret that Lanthimos is a great filmmaker. He knows how to direct these talented performers, and the cinematography, the suspense, and the absurdness of it all works so damn well. There is no doubt in my mind that Lanthimos could easily be one of the most influential directors of this time, and this is just one of the numerous films of his that proves so. 

    I think Jesse Plemons, Emma Stone, Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, and Mamaudou Athie are all fantastic in this ensemble cast, and they each do a great job of embodying the three different roles they play. They each have to shed one character they play to play another that is sometimes completely different from the previous role, and they make it look effortless. Plemons and Stone serve as the main characters in all three films, and not only is their chemistry fantastic, but the fact they are able to play these twisted and deranged characters show how great of actors they are. At the same time, the entire cast are impeccable together and have some wonderful chemistry that works in every scene.

    On paper, this seems like a perfect film that simply works on every level. And, for the most part, it does work so well. But, the writing and the story just falls flat numerous times. Especially in the first film, it seems like it drags on so much for no reason, and it feels like Lanthimos is just trying to add in so much fluff to expand the runtime to about three hours as his other two films had enough material to satisfy their hour length. The first film did have the plot and the material to make it very compelling, but it seems like Lanthimos avoided that and only put in the real juicy bits to the last fifteen minutes or so. 

    With the other films, he does the same at times, with there not really being a clear directive for where he wants the plot to go. Sure, it's long and it drags at numerous times, but the aspect that irked me the most was all the unanswered questions Lanthimos poses. There are so many plot details or characters that are still left open at the film's conclusion, and it seems like he has no desire to conclude them. What happens to his wife at the end of the first film? What about Stone's husband and daughter at the end of the final film? And, don't even get me started on the ending to the middle film. Lanthimos had the opportunity here to deliver on such fantastic storytelling like he did in his previous films, but he simply ignores that aspect to deliver a movie that works as an exercise in filmmaking. It's not bad, but it's not necessarily good either; a film needs to have a greatly-written story to truly succeed. 

    After watching this new Lanthimos picture, I think it truly made me appreciate Poor Things even more than I did before. I'm not saying I didn't like this film for what it is, nor am I saying I don't appreciate Lanthimos work here, but it simply isn't as good as his previous film. On a filmmaking standpoint, he does a great job, but the story and writing are simply not up to par with Lanthimos behind the camera. I am both disappointed at what was presented on the screen, but also delighted with some of the work Lanthimos and his cast did here. I definitely understand the mixed reactions on this one now, and I truly don't know if this will stand the test of time compared to his other works.