Kinds of Kindness

Kinds of Kindness, 2024, 3 ¼ stars


Three-parter is another Lanthimos mind-bender

Kinds of KindnessExclusive to MeierMovies, June 26, 2024

Sorry, Jim Morrison, but many people remember your name when you’re strange, especially if your name is Yorgos Lanthimos.

With Kinds of Kindness, the Greek director is back in fine absurd form, after his dalliance with surrealism in Poor Things. Though the two styles are similar, Lanthimos’s latest film, which he wrote with frequent collaborator Efthimis Filippou, has more in common with the absurdity of The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Lobster, though this new project is arguably less dry and more laugh-out-loud insane.

Kinds of Kindness is a triptych of the weird, stuffed with metaphors, like a turducken. The three tales have elements of the supernatural and even (body) horror but are, at their core, absurdist comedies. They have neither plot nor characters (except one, the silent “R.M.F.”) in common, but they are thematically linked. In addition, all lead actors appear in each, like a rep company. Emma Stone and Jesse Plemons are superb; Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau and Mamoudou Athie add memorable support; and Willem Dafoe is Willem Dafoe. Or are any of us really ourselves? That’s a question posed by the second tale: Body Snatchers meets John Frankenheimer’s Seconds. The other two stories focus more on cults, deception (similar to Dogtooth) and devotion, with the opener asking – in song, no less – “How deep is your love?”

You won’t get many plot details from either this review or the movie’s title. It might as easily have been called “Kinds of Cruelty,” unless you consider that “kin,” the root of “kindness,” speaks to family, belonging and blind trust. Therein lies a thematic clue to Lanthimos’s puzzle. But if you seek specifics in advance, which you shouldn’t, visit Wikipedia.

Speaking of pedia, bring neither the kiddies nor your own childlike sensibilities to this film, lest they be shredded by Lanthimos’s occasionally unnecessary and outrageously crude reliance on violence, sex, animalism and food. Yes, food. But the director’s almost fetishistic use of these elements can also be unsettlingly brilliant.

Equally unnerving is the sound design, specifically English composer Jerskin Fendrix’s score, which is less music and more a cacophony of chanting and dissonant notes. It is just as much the star of the film as Stone and Plemons.

Like that latter actor’s hair, which inexplicably becomes stubbier in each story, this critic’s attention span grew progressively shorter over the film’s 164-minute runtime. And as with all anthology films, except 1945’s Dead of Night, Kinds of Kindness is less than the sum of its parts. But the parts are spasmodically fantastic and, when allowed to simmer in the film’s Louisiana kitchen, produce the strangest three-course meal of the year. Dig in.

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For more information about this movie, visit IMDBThe film premiered at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, where Plemons won best actor, and is scheduled for wide release in the United States on June 28. (This review was revised on June 28, 2024.)