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“Poor Things”: Divisive or Brilliant?

Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Backlash has recently surrounded Yorgos Lanthimos’ new film “Poor Things.” Many viewers have expressed negative thoughts on TikTok, saying that the film is sexist and exploitative.

The film, based on the 1993 novel by Alasdair Gray, follows Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) as he transplants an unborn baby’s brain into the head of the baby’s mother, who committed suicide. Emma Stone plays Bella Baxter, a “newborn” who sets out on a voyage of personal and sexual discovery as her brain quickly matures.

“Poor Things’” display of nudity under the presence of a male director was one of the main gripes of Kiera Breaugh, a TikTok user with over 40 million views on the platform. “I get the point of ‘Poor Things’, but whenever somebody’s nipple is out the whole time and it’s written by a man, I’m going to have questions because I start to get a little bit uncomfortable,” Breaugh said.

Other TikTok creators such as Megan Cruz, a creator with over 50 million views, are tired of literalness that is used when creators lambast the film.

“It’s one thing to say ‘This triggered me,’ versus ‘This is inherently gross and problematic.’ I think it stems from a foundational unwillingness that a lot of people have to critically engage with any art that makes them feel uncomfortable.” – Megan Cruz, TikTok film reviewer

“If we want to make art that is going to be able to move the needle of public perception and genuinely have a meaningful impact,” Cruz said, “it’s going to come from a place of discomfort.”

When speaking to The Times about the criticisms against “Poor Things”, Stone said: “If it helps, as the person who played it and produced it, I didn’t see her as a child in any of those scenes.”

“But even that’s too literal,” added director Lanthimos.

“If you take a film that literally, where you start discussing it in terms of the brain of a child, then you’re kind of missing the point of storytelling in general. If you start to analyze the film as something that would actually happen, then of course the film doesn’t work.” – Yorgos Lanthimos, “Poor Things” director

Despite the negative reception, “Poor Things” won four Oscars at the 96th Academy Awards on March 10 for Best Actress, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Costume Design. The film is currently streaming on Hulu.

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Chaz Mullis
Chaz Mullis, Staff Editor
Big fan of movies, music, hiking, and writing.
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