Kinds of Kindness (2024) Movie Review – A twisted triptych

A twisted triptych

Yorgos Lanthimos has always been weird. Despite the Oscars attention for Poor Things and The Favourite, I don’t know that you could call even the most mainstream of his films crowd pleasers. So when everyone is calling the director’s latest, Kinds of Kindness, a “return to form,” you know you’re getting the most out-there of his eccentric filmography.

There’s no question about Lanthimos’ affinity for the outlandish, which only seems to be amplified by working again with screenwriter Efthimis Filippou (Alps, Dogtooth). The bigger question at hand for many is whether the director buries substance too deeply under style.

At first glance, it might be hard to tell. Kinds of Kindness is made up of three stories that don’t immediately appear to have that much in common apart from Lanthimos’ surreal style and a silent but crucial character by the name of R.M.F (Yorgos Stefanakos). In the first installment, “The Death of R.M.F.,” Robert (Jesse Plemons) is a man whose life is completely controlled by his boss (Willem Dafoe). In “R.M.F. is Flying,” Daniel (Plemons) suspects that his wife (Emma Stone), who returns home after going missing at sea, is not really his wife at all. And in “R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich,” Emily (Stone) is part of a cult that’s on the search for their chosen one.

The first story might be the most predictable but is no less odd for it. It’s the best performance-wise, centering Jesse Plemons as the desperate pawn to Willem Dafoe’s sadistic power grabber. In the second, Plemons takes a turn as the manipulative authority figure. And once we get into the third story, the thematic connections truly start taking shape, as the cult storyline reveals a third power imbalance.

Each installment highlights power dynamics at play in institutions of work, marriage, or faith and sheds light on the human tendency to conflate those with control and influence with those who have our best interests in mind. In Kinds of Kindness, living outside the constraints of the powerful seems impossible and often even undesirable. But rather than wag its finger at these injustices, the film laughs coldly at them, thrusting them at us tauntingly as if to goad us into reaction–any reaction.

It’s a hostile way of telling these stories, but their twisted nature reveals the darker facets of humanity, shedding light on what we’re willing to overlook and embrace for a pittance of love. However unsavory the union appears, I think it’s safe to say Lanthimos has married style and substance in Kinds of Kindness, ultimately reminding us that even evil can look like a kind of kindness in a fucked-up world.

Read More: Kinds of Kindness Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 8.5/10

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