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Kinds of Kindness Review: The Strangest Film of 2024?

Plenty of incredible films have hit cinemas this year, but nothing tops Kinds of Kindness for the most bizarre watch of 2024.

Jesse Plemons Kinds of Kindness Yorgos Lanthimos
Credit: Searchlight Pictures

At this point, Yorgos Lanthimos is a household name. The oddball director has made a career by crafting some of the strangest movies ever to hit Hollywood. Looking back on bizarre classics like The Favourite and The Lobster, it should be no surprise how weird Kinds of Kindness turned out.

Less than a year ago, the Greek filmmaker dominated cinemas with Poor Things, a dark comedy featuring Emma Stone as a Frankenstein-esque woman brought back to life with the brain of a baby. Eight months later, Lanthimos returns with an even stranger story to tell.

Kinds of Kindness is an anthology film. Across its near three-hour runtime, the movie is divided into three distinct, but equally disturbing tales. Each short film features the same star-studded lineup, with Willem Dafoe and Jesse Plemons among its cast. After taking home four Oscars for Poor Things, fans worried that Lanthimos would tone down on the weirdness, but Kinds of Kindness is evidence that the madman director is never selling out.

The Story

Kinds of Kindness Review Yorgos Lanthimos
Jesse Plemons, Margaret Qualley and Willem Dafoe in Kinds of Kindness. Credit: Searchlight Pictures

In typical Lanthimos fashion, Kinds of Kindness will make you howl laughing and cover your eyes in disgust in the same scene. The three short films are varying degrees of disturbing, but the plotline of each tale is enough to keep you engaged.

The first short, “The Death of R.M.F.”, follows Robert, whose entire life is dictated by his oppressive boss, Raymond. What begins as a simple conflict between colleagues escalates into an abusive cycle of violence. Robert turns on his boss, but regrets it at once, spending the film trying to manipulate his way back into Raymond’s favor. As unhinged as it gets, the first short is easily the most straightforward, and a tame introduction to the madhouse of Lanthimos’s mind.

Following the first short is “R.M.F. Is Flying”, a tale of trust, lust, and death. The central character, Daniel, spends the film trying to prove his so-called wife is an impostor. At first, the viewer is tempted to believe Daniel. However, as his methods become sadistic and brutal, we question whether anything he says can be trusted. Did his wife ever go missing? Is there an impostor or is Daniel insane? No scene provides an answer; every moment provokes another question.

Similarly, “R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich” is a rollercoaster of confusion. The plot follows Emily, a member of a bizarre sex cult intent on finding someone capable of raising the dead. No moment is predictable. Every time you think you have a grasp of the story, the writers pull it in a new direction, suspending the viewer in a constant state of bewildered awe. That confusion is exactly what makes Kinds of Kindness so special. You never feel safe; every time you think you understand it, Lanthimos shocks you with another montage of blood, sex, and trauma.

The Acting

Kinds of Kindness Review Yorgos Lanthimos
Jesse Plemons in Kinds of Kindness. Credit: Searchlight Picutres

As expected, every performance in Kinds of Kindness is phenomenal. Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe bring a more muted presence than they did in Poor Things, speaking in an almost robotic, monotone voice. Most of the cast follow the same technique, reading their lines like emotionless zombies rather than empathetic humans.

Although that sounds like an insult, it’s far from it. By acting in such stilted, unnatural ways, the actors emphasize how strange and alien their behavior is. Even more exciting, the same actors return for each of the three shorts, flexing their versatility as they take on new and even more bizarre roles.

The definite standout on screen is Jesse Plemons. In the first two shorts, he steals the show, exuding all the paranoia and desperation fit for a Yorgos Lanthimos film. In the first, he’s fidgety and anxious; the second, he’s cunning and maniacal; the third, he’s distant and nonchalant. Emma Stone may entice viewers to theaters, but Jesse Plemons is the one who keeps them in their seats.

The Visuals

In every regard, Kinds of Kindness is visually stunning. Every character dresses in vibrant colors, from Emma Stone’s blood-red suit jacket to Jesse Plemons’s lavender turtleneck. The outfits add some much-needed warmth and brightness to the screen, contrasting the icy and harrowing storylines.

Beyond the costume and set design, the cinematography fits the film perfectly. Countless scenes are filmed with long shots, creating a distance between the viewer and the actor. As a result, the actors’ faces become distant smudges, emphasizing their bizarre behavior as characters rather than their recognizable faces as Hollywood stars. When the camera isn’t far away, it’s uncomfortably close. Zooming in on an orange being juiced or Emma Stone’s teeth sinking into a hunk of meat, each shot feeds into the insanity of Lanthimos’s vision.

The Score

Kinds of Kindness Review Yorgos Lanthimos
Emma Stone in Kinds of Kindness. Credit: Searchlight Pictures

Even in its score, Kinds of Kindness is unsettling. At random points, a thunder of distorted piano keys bombards the viewer’s ears, urging the audience to keep on their toes. At the tensest moments, a choir of phantoms screams, chanting, “No! No! No!”. The singers interrupt one another, with the clash of voices creating a claustrophobic din of voices. The sporadic score certainly isn’t a soundtrack to revisit casually, but in the context of the movie, it adds even more terror to the experience.

Is it worth a watch?

Willem Dafoe in new Yorgos Lanthimos film
Willem Dafoe in Kinds of Kindness. Credit: Searchlight Pictures

Yorgos Lanthimos has never been a people-pleaser. Despite the mainstream success of Poor Things, the filmmaker remains one of the most unapologetically experimental minds in Hollywood. Kinds of Kindness isn’t Lanthimos stepping back from his style; it shows him embrace it more than ever. For that reason, you’re about as likely to hate it as you are to love it.

If you’re a fan of films that disgust, confuse, and terrify the viewer, Kinds of Kindness is just for you. Half the appeal is its cryptic nature, urging the viewer to analyze every minute detail for a deeper thematic meaning. Up there with the strangest movies of 2024, I would argue it is an essential watch for all film-goers. Like every Lanthimos movie, Kinds of Kindness is a gamble. You might leave the cinema having seen three hours of needless gore and trauma; or, if you’re like me, you’ll leave the theater with a new cinema obsession.

Written By

Evan Baxter-Carr is a student journalist and novelist from Glasgow, Scotland. He is currently enrolled at the University of Strathclyde, heading into his fourth year studying English, creative writing, and journalism.

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