15 thoughts I had while watching Poor Things

Saltburn walked so Poor Things could run

Hero image in post
Hero image in post

Saltburn walked so Poor Things could run

By Darshita Goyal12 Jan 2024
5 mins read time
5 mins read time

If you’ve seen any Yorgos Lanthimos film, you know he’s not a fan of life as life is. In the freakishly popular 2015 rom-com The Lobster, he transformed lonely people into animals. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer a surgeon is plagued by a vengeful teen and now, in Poor Things — Lanthimos’ latest serve to the Mubi-loving film world — one woman holds an infant, an adult, a mother and its child all within her cut-up, confused body.

And that’s not even a spoiler. Despite its queasy premise, the movie starring Emma Stone as science experiment Bella Baxter, Willem Dafoe as the Frankenstein-esque scientist, Godwin Baxter and Mark Ruffalo as sleazy lawyer Duncan Wedderburn isn’t a thriller. Instead it’s a wondrous, pastel-hued exploration of life and its whimsies.

Over two hours, the film follows Bella as she discovers the world through oysters, blowing bubbles, breaking plates and having enormous amounts of sex. As a warning, there are also violent, vile and controlling men.

Cinematically, Poor Things has a lot to offer with its montage of wide angled, fish eye and often black-and-white Victorian era shots. No wonder it’s been nominated for every award that matters this season. But to be honest, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re still sus of the plot — it does sound like uncharted territory, and the trailer gives little away. So to give you the whole, unfiltered truth, here’s almost every thought I had while watching Lanthimos’ Poor Things, stream-of-consciousness style.

(Light spoilers ahead!)

It’s been 5 minutes and I’m already scared of what I signed up for. There’s a dog with a duck’s face? Bella peed on herself, stabbed a dead person’s eyes (in the lab) and cackled at the gore. Oh and how does Emma Stone walk like that? Can a grown person fake-forget how to walk?

Hello Ramy Youssef! He plays God’s assistant Max McCandle (hilarious) and studies Bella, who we just found out has never left the freaky scientist’s mansion! My favourite bit yet: Bella uses a cucumber as a dildo at the dining table and tells Max she’s discovered how to make herself happy, slay queen <33

OK, a lot has changed very quickly: Max tries to marry Bella, she then runs away to Lisbon with Duncan, the lawyer who touched her inappropriately but promised to show her the world in all its colours. Basically, he wants to fuck her till he’s bored. Ugh, be careful Bella!

The film is now in colour: Bella and Duncan are in Lisbon having sex in every position, in every room, in every corner. She loves it and calls sex “loud jumping” how fun! Those pastel de natas look so good. Maybe Duncan’s good for Bella? Maybe Bella can take care of herself?

Nope, take that back. Duncan has kidnapped Bella in a trunk and brought her on a cruise so she never leaves him for the adventures of the world. OK, sir Lanthimos the allegory is crystal clear: Bella represents women at large, who are often infantilised and passed on from one controlling man to another: God to Max to Duncan. Really twisted way to say it, but I see your point.

There’s a funny old woman on the ship who hasn’t been fucked in 20 years and encourages Bella to look beyond Duncan. See, girlfriends are golden in every universe. Side note: the ship has puffy green smoke coming out of it and the sea is swirly, it’s like dark Disney.

Bella discovers poverty and empathy for the first time. To help the poor in ancient Alexandria, she donates all of Duncan’s money (lol). All hail our socialist queen. Obviously, Duncan is furious and they’re thrown off the ship in snow-covered Paris.

Wait, no way! To make some quick ££ and survive, Bella joins a brothel. Goodbye Duncan, hello world of kink and sexual freedom. All of you who can’t stop tweeting about Saltburn and the bathtub scene, just wait till you watch Poor Things.

Some of the men are douchebags, no surprise there. But Bella fights for foreplay before sex and you won’t believe what she draws it down to. A memory from the man, a joke from her, a quick smell test and bang! I wonder what my four-step foreplay routine is.

Along with loud jumping, Bella goes for socialist meetings in Paris and continues to explore the world with her new French girlfriend. Chic! But wait, God’s dying in London so she goes back, dressed in all black too. We miss your big blue jackets and blinding yellow skirts!

Okay the creator and creation have a showdown. Bella finally learns that God pulled out her infant child’s brain and animated it into her adult body. She’s pissed off, who wouldn’t be? But the man is also dying.

Max is back! After seeing the men of the world, Bella decides to marry loving, trusting Max. That white wedding dress is stunning, is it normal to wear a lace veil over your face like that? How is she breathing?

Plot twist: Bella’s first husband, before she met God, is here and is calling her Victoria Blessington. He wants her back. Nope, bad vibes. The movie should have ended with the wedding.

The last 20 minutes were unnecessary… Bella makes her way back to Max and God anyway. (It’s okay, that was just a bad bit, it’s not a bad film.)

What a wild ride! Bella Baxter would have really enjoyed knowing that everyone who watches the film is signing up on a quest and an adventure of their own. A funny, often uncomfortable test of everything we feel and why we feel it just how Bella lived her life.

Poor Things is now available to watch in cinemas globally