The film tells the story of an eccentric surgeon, played by Willem Dafoe, in an imaginary nineteenth-century London. His strange odyssey begins when he fishes up the corpse of a pregnant drowned woman and manages to perform a successful brain transplant, replacing the mother’s brain with that of the baby in her womb.
From this point on, the plot turns into a riotous black comedy full of entanglements, mostly of a sexual nature. Emma Stone, who plays the newborn in the body of a beautiful young woman, stands out for her uninhibited acting. She stars in many explicit scenes, mainly with Mark Ruffalo, who plays her lover, who ends up completely unhinged.
The director, a 50-year-old independent creator with a track record that includes films like “Lobster” and “The Favourite,” explained at a press conference that it was essential for him not to make a puritanical film, as that would betray the essence of the novel and the main character.
Based on the homonymous novel by Alasdair Gray published in 1992, “Poor Creatures” is a visually baroque film with sumptuous sets that freely recreate various European capitals of the late 19th century during the maddening journey of the protagonists throughout Europe.
The film places a significant burden on the shoulders of Emma Stone, who was sadly unable to attend the Venice Film Festival due to an actors’ strike in the United States. The director emphasized the importance of the actress in building her character, highlighting her uninhibited attitude towards her nudity in the film.
The film contains numerous references to gothic novels, especially the classic “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, with the surgeon himself, played by Willem Dafoe, being reminiscent of the mythical monster.
Yorgos Lanthimos, the director, is known for his reality-bending style, using wide-angle lenses and creating spectacular sets and costumes. This film, in particular, sought to create a world completely different from the one we know, which is reflected in the way it is filmed through the use of black and white and color.
Lanthimos won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2018 for “The Favourite,” and “Poor Creatures” is one of the 23 films in competition this year at the 80th edition of the Mostra.