In a word: fantastic. In a lot of others words, it's offensive, loud, vibrant, emotional, hilarious, and weird. Emma Stone delivers the performance of a life time (as does Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe), and she deserves best actor for her incredible work.
Tony McNamara deserves as much credit as Emma Stone for Poor Things being the success that it is. He took a crazy Victorian story and turned it into a shockingly modern tale of feminism, individuality, and power. But he also made it just so damn funny. There were so many lines or moments that really just came out of nowhere, and I'm no expert on Alasdair Gray so I have no ides how much of the humor can be attributed to the author of the original, but so many lines in this movie are sharp and make you think. As great as the acting was it seems that the writing can often be overlooked, so try not to forget crediting Tony McNamara when you see (and love) this movie. It is sharp, relevant, and has so many funny blunt moments that really just hit you in the face until you are laughing out of nervousness more than anything else.
The plot is essentially a modern day retelling of Frankenstein. To spare the more intimate details of it, Willem Dafoe plays a scientist who brings a woman back to life so she can experience life with a uh...fresh set of eyes. Bella is a naive recreation who stumbles out into the world to experience it at it's fullest. She travels the world to experience as much as she can, and learns a lot on the way, with a lot less pitchforks involved than Frankenstein, and 100% more thirsty men. Bella is direct, sharp, and grows as she experiences more and more throughout the movie. The first 20 minutes or so (the black and white portion) is painfully slow, but sets up the backstory for Bella and how immature she is at the start of the film. Watching her progression through maturity is fascinating even if the movie drags along at times.
As I have said many many times in this review, Emma Stone's performance is what makes this movie a masterpiece. Her commitment to engage in each sex scene in the movie made Bella's journey seem all the more real, tragic, and enlightening. The movie (and the actors themselves) try to normalize sex by engaging in the scenes as fully as they can, and you do NOT see that in any movie, let alone a movie today. It definitely makes for the most uncomfortable thirty minute block of the movie, but that's exactly the point. Emma Stone's commitment to the character makes it all happen. Her line delivery, her jerky movements of someone who is trying to learn to walk again, all of it is just done so perfectly. The supporting cast makes an already good movie great. Dafoe and Ruffalo shine in their roles. I went for Dafoe and Stone and stayed for the Ruffalo. He was hilarious and absolutely stole each scene he was in. This movie is worth seeing for the performances alone, even if you aren't into bizarre film.
Each set in Poor Things is wonderfully done. From the dreary black and white environment of God's mansion, to the excellent and vivid use of colors for Portugal, to the fascist stark colors of the General's mansion, each set is built to perfection. Your eyes will enjoy each scene, for better or worse, as you see the details of each set. Each scene is unique in it's feel and theme, and it's an underrated part of the movie. Seeing the scenes go from Black and White, to colorful, to more color, to extreme colors, and then back to dull colors was a creative way for the set to accompany Bella's journey of self discovery and her (almost) end.
A strong cast, sharp writing, and colorful scenery are more than enough to make this bizarre adaptation one of the best movies to come out of 2023.