Comedy Drama

Review: ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is a Twisted, Methodical and Low-Key Bizarre Look at the Human Need to be Loved and Our Desire to Belong

June 25, 2024Ben MK

With films like The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster and The Favourite under his belt, Yorgos Lanthimos has earned a reputation for being a uniquely talented filmmaker with a very specific set of sensibilities. Unapologetically twisted and fantastically imaginative, Lanthimos' films have a knack for getting under audiences' skin, while also exposing the humanity that lies at the core of all his stories. And with Kinds of Kindness, the Poor Things director is adding to his impressive repertoire, in this trio of offbeat, loosely connected tales dealing with the very human need to be loved and to belong.

Titled "The Death of RMF," "RMF is Flying" and "RMF Eats a Sandwich," these three stories star Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Mamoudou Athie and Hong Chau, all of whom take on different roles from one tale to the next. Playing a man named Robert, who's literally under the control of his tightfisted boss, Raymond (Dafoe), Plemons helps kick off the first segment of the movie by setting the stage for what's to come. Married to Sarah (Chau), Robert's meticulously curated life takes a turn for the worse when he fails to successfully carry out one of the more disturbing tasks set upon him by Raymond — deliberately causing a car crash that could cause a complete stranger to die. But when he meets and falls for Rita (Stone), whose surprising ties to Raymond catch Robert completely off guard, Robert unexpectedly finds the motivation to do exactly what he needs to do to please his boss, as he realizes how easily replaceable he truly is.

This opening segment gives way to the film's middle chapter, in which Plemons plays a police officer named Daniel, whose marine biologist wife, Liz (Stone), has gone missing while on a ocean research expedition. When Liz and one of her colleagues are suddenly rescued one day, however, the happiness Daniel feels is soon replaced with a sense of paranoia and dread. Observing that Liz has been acting somewhat out of character since her return from being lost at sea, Daniel begins to suspect that she isn't really Liz at all, but rather some sort of doppelgänger out to trick him and Liz's father, George (Dafoe), into thinking she's their beloved wife and daughter. What this Liz impersonator doesn't anticipate, though, is just how far Daniel will go to prove his suspicions. But even if Daniel is right, is the real Liz already dead? Or is she being held hostage somehow by her duplicitous twin?

Last but not least, Stone and Plemons play Emily and Andrew, a couple of people working for a cult leader named Omi (Dafoe), who, along with his wife, Aka (Chau), have managed to convince their followers to leave their families behind in the good faith that they'll eventually gain powers beyond that of normal human beings. Tasked with seeking out a woman who can supposedly resurrect the dead, Emily and Andrew find themselves possibly on the right track when they're made aware of twins Rebecca and Ruth (Qualley), one of whom might be exactly the individual they've been searching for. However, when Emily gets kicked out of the cult, she takes it upon herself to complete the assignment on her own, as a way of getting back into Omi's good graces. Will she succeed? Or will fate ultimately intervene with a cruel and unforeseen twist of its own?

Clocking in at almost three hours and perfectly content with maintaining a methodical pace, the result clearly wasn't designed with casual viewers in mind. Still, for devoted fans of Lanthimos' work or those simply seeking to expand their cinematic horizons, there's no shortage of rewards to be reaped if you're willing to invest a little time and patience. One of the most low-key bizarre theatrical experiences of the year, Kinds of Kindness is certainly worth the watch for anthology fans. For those who prefer storytelling that's a little more conventional and grounded, however, it wouldn't be completely unkind to look elsewhere.

Kinds of Kindness releases June 28th 2024 from Searchlight Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong/disturbing violent content, strong sexual content, full nudity and language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 44 min.

You May Also Like