Film Review: Kinds of Kindness


Kinds of Kindness
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Element Pictures, Film4 Productions, TSG Entertainment
In Theaters: 06.21

The great thing about seeing a Yorgos Lanthimos picture in the theater is the audience reaction. Lanthimos’ sense of humor is certainly very new wave. Grotesque blood and graphic sex are used as punchlines, and at times it’s very unclear exactly when you’re supposed to laugh—if you’re meant to laugh at all. 

Lanthimos’ Oscar-winning films, The Favorite and Poor Things, were far more mainstream than the Greek filmmaker’s earlier works, like The Lobster. He really toned down the thematic and performance based experimentation in favor of more traditional—mind the word “more”—performances and stories. Really, he was experimenting with his visuals in those films.

Lanthimos’ newest film, Kinds of Kindness, is an anthology about a man whose life is controlled by his boss (even down to the times he’s supposed to fuck his wife), another man whose long-missing wife returns different than he remembers her and a cult looking for their messiah.

Kinds of Kindness is Lanthimos’ return to form. Visually, it’s much less experimental than his Oscar-winners. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, in fact the use of lighting, reflections, fades, wides and color are amazing and stylistically distinctive and sits this picture among the best looking films of 2024, but I miss those stupid fucking lenses he used in Poor Things that completely ruined the frame and made for interesting compositions.

Like The Lobster, the acting in Kinds of Kindness is dead, awkward and amazing. Jesse Plemmons (Civil War, Killers of the Flower Moon), in particular, is fantastic. He nails a great balance between the stiff, alien-like dialogue with unbelievable subtlety. The ensemble is pretty impressive; Margaret Qualley (Drive-Away Dolls, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) and Willem Dafoe (Poor Things, The Lighthouse) stand out. Emma Stone (Poor Things, La La Land), however, really isn’t that outstanding in this one. She has moments, but she tends to lean into non-acting. When you’re doing this type of performance, it’s pretty easy to just slip out of the acting and begin reading your lines like a child in a school play.

The issue with Kinds of Kindness, like The Lobster, is that if you’re not into it, you’re never going to get into it. And even for me, who loves this stuff, Kinds of Kindness got dull after a while. I was completely in love with the first two stories, but the third, while full of genius storytelling and great jokes, is hard to get through. I loved the film’s use of repeated themes, characters and visuals, but after three hours, it doesn’t necessarily shake it up enough to be an entirely satisfying anthology.

That said, the writing is top-notch. The jokes are great, the way abuse is explored throughout the three stories is impactful and I love the way these stories snowball into insanity before ending in a terrible thud. Lanthimos’ sense of humor is wonderfully grotesque. You know something’s right when most of the audience is not sure if they’re supposed to laugh. Amazingly, when Lanthimos touches on something truly horrific, he handles it maturely. 

Lanthimos has cemented himself as one of the best filmmakers of the 21st century. He’s a true innovator and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Go see Kinds of Kindness in a theater while you can. The audience will be half of your experience. –B. Allan Johnson

Read more film reviews:
Film Review: The Watchers
Film Review: Despicable Me 4