Poor Things (2023) Movie Review – A hilarious satire and a visual delight

A hilarious satire and a visual delight

Poor Things, the 2023 comedy/science fantasy, draws its inspiration from Alasdair Gray’s book of the same name. The premise chronicles the life of Archibald McCandless, M.D., a Scottish health officer. Archibald falls head over heels for Bella Baxter, introduced to him by Godwin Baxter, who has created Bella by planting the brain of her unborn child into Bella’s lifeless body.

The film is a wild ride, juggling themes of love, creation, and the unexpected turns that shape Bella’s extraordinary existence.

While the book tells the story from Archibald McCandless’ perspective, the movie puts us in Bella Baxter’s (Emma Stone) shoes as she grows up. There are scenes where a small round frame pops up on the screen, giving us a peek into Bella’s evolving perspective with her developing brain.

One of the best things about Poor Things is its point of view. Even though it’s set in the Victorian era, there are moments when Bella’s perspective brings in some modern touches. You’ll see things like Bella’s modern style and even flying cars in this Victorian world.

The sets are wonderfully created to match Bella’s brain development. The movie takes us through five stages of Bella’s brain growth, each with different colors, sets, and locations, making the whole journey a joy to watch.

The color palettes and the background score also play a huge role in the film. At the start, this movie is mostly in black and white, but as it progresses, it bursts into vibrant colors. These colors help tell Bella’s story as she grows from a child to a woman. The lively colors during the cruise shop scenes and the yellowish tones of the Victorian era certainly deserve extra credit. 

Moving forward, let’s talk about the characters of the film. When it comes to character growth, everyone raves about Bella Baxter’s journey, but let’s not forget about Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe).

Despite being portrayed as a hardened scientist, he surprises us with some fatherly feelings for Bella. Baxter drops a bomb about his father’s not-so-great science experiments but wraps it up by admitting the old man was dead wrong.

One standout element in this film that you’ll really appreciate is how it portrays men. Take Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo) and Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef), for instance – total opposites. Duncan’s the man stuck in the old-school mindset, using women for pleasure.

Whereas Max is the epitome of a true gentleman. He never judges Bella and wouldn’t dream of taking advantage of her. The connection between Max and Bella is nothing short of heartwarming. It’s like a breath of fresh air seeing these two characters and their totally contrasting dynamics.

The movie does a fantastic job showcasing different types of women, and it’s a real joy to watch. You’ve got Martha, the open-minded one; Toinette, the one with big dreams, ambition, and independence; and Mrs. Prim, who is Dr. Godwin’s right hand. Each of these women brings something special to the table, serving as a source of inspiration for Bella Baxter on her path to womanhood.

Poor Things is a decent film, but it could have been better if the directors dived into more aspects of a woman’s life instead of focusing mainly on sexuality. Maybe the team aimed to bring out the conflicts in human behavior, society, and, well, humans themselves. While they’ve got a solid vision, there’s a call for a more diverse portrayal of women’s experiences in the movie.

Watching Bella navigate various aspects of human life, especially those specific to being a woman, would’ve been a treat. While we do see snippets like Bella witnessing the heartbreaking tragedy of children dying and dealing with a controlling ex-husband, there’s a hunger for more.

The audience craves more scenes where Bella reacts to different situations shaped by societal expectations for women. Adding more of these moments could bring even more depth to Bella’s character and the overall storyline.

This movie is a hilarious satire, shedding light on the ridiculous societal norms that limit women. It’s a visual delight, showcasing how women would navigate situations without these absurd constraints. It makes for a fantastic weekend watch and it’s well worth checking out. 


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  • Verdict - 6/10

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