Friday June 14th, 2024
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Cannes 2024: ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is a Minimalist Touch of Dark Whimsy

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos with an ensemble cast that includes Emma Stone, William Dafoe and Jesse Plemons, the anthology follows three strange tales about relationships and free will.

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Cannes 2024: ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is a Minimalist Touch of Dark Whimsy

Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is an anthology film that reveals three strange tales. The first follows a man without choice who tries to take control of his own life. The second story focuses on a policeman who is alarmed that his wife, who was missing-at-sea, seems to be a different person upon her return. The third explores a woman determined to find a specific person with a special ability to revive the dead.

Elaborating on his creative process, Lanthimos explained that he wanted to experiment with structure. “As we identified the subsequent stories, we wanted to keep a thematic thread, so it felt as if it all belonged under the same umbrella.” So, what is the overarching theme? Throughout all three narratives, Lanthimos explores power dynamics, control, free will, and human relationships. The film delves into the ways individuals navigate between personal autonomy and societal norms or external influence. In true Lanthimos fashion, he pushes these themes to exaggerated, yet darkly humorous, extremes.

The impressive ensemble of actors plays various characters throughout the film, allowing them to dig into different fabrics of human nature. Initially, viewers might find the connections between the stories unclear, but as the unconventional structure becomes apparent, the film's unique charm emerges. ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is a solid effort from the director, but never quite reaches the heights of his previous works. In other words, the film feels like a minor entry in an otherwise mammoth filmography. Like all anthology films, some stories work, others do not. Of all three short stories, the second one was the one I enjoyed most. It packs a quirky twist that had me smiling in the cinema.

Even if ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is not the masterpiece that we expect from Lanthimos, this stripped-back film was a delight to experience. The minimalist approach in both cinematography and production design allows for a heightened focus on the actual plot. Emma Stone brings a sense of joy and spontaneity to her performances and William Dafoe never disappoints. However, it is Jesse Plemons who truly stands out amongst the cast. Plemons's nuanced acting skills and ability to inject humour into the most awkward situations matches the director’s keen eye for dark comedy.

As with any Yorgos Lanthimos film, it won't appeal to everyone. However, fans of his work will find ‘Kinds of Kindness’ to be a delightful little gem. It may not be considered a major work by the director, but it will still hold appeal for those familiar with his style.