Kinds of Kindness

Kinds of Kindness

A triptych fable following a man without choice who tries to take control of his own life; a policeman who is alarmed that his wife who was missing-at-sea has returned and seems a different person; and a woman determined to find a specific someone with a special ability, who is destined to become a prodigious spiritual leader.

  • Released:
  • Runtime: 164 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • Stars: Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Elton LeBlanc, Mamoudou Athie, Victoria Harris, Hunter Schafer, Emma Stone, Merah Benoit, Krystal Alayne Chambers, Ja'Quan Monroe-Henderson, Susan Elle, Nathan Mulligan, Christian M. Letellier, Julianne Binard, Lance Michael Weller, Susan Elle, Tessa Bourgeois
  • Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
  • pergahair - 4 July 2024
    Not Good, Not Bad
    As a lover of off-center dark comedy it failed to hit some marks for me. The themes, as deep as they intended to be, felt surface level with absurdities thrown in to convince you it was more thought provoking than it actually was. Sometimes pieces by well known artist get made simply because they have a reputation. This feels like one of those pieces. Lanthimos was given a tremendous opportunity to make whatever he wanted and it shows. Any other filmmaker would struggle to get this greenlit which brings me to my final point... I respect the originality and new perspective the films offers, I just think it was lazy in its execution and quite honestly a bit pretentious.
  • nehpetstephen - 3 July 2024
    I honestly don't understand how anyone can like this
    I have seen all of Yorgos Lanthimos's feature films, starting with DOGTOOTH when it was first available in the US, a movie I eagerly anticipated and that I remember vividly and fondly fifteen years later. I have liked or loved all of his movies; my least favorite would be ALPS, but even that I found thought-provoking and amusing, definitely more good than bad. Yet now I am confronted with KINDS OF KINDNESS, which is so atrociously awful, so lacking in merit than I can only imagine that Lanthimos is being deliberately hostile to his audience, purposely trying to squander the good will he has built up among the mainstream in recent years.

    There is almost nothing positive I can say about this film. It earned a few laughs from me from shock value alone, and it technically held my attention captive as I stared at it, trying to find something of value, but that's literally it. In the end, my time felt violently wasted. Several people walked out of the theater I was in. I honestly can't fathom why it has received above average plaudits from critics, IMDb users, and film festivals.

    By my measure, this is not satire or allegory or even surrealism. All of those genres, in order to be effective, need at least some intersection with reality. For example, SHOWGIRLS is delicious satire of show business, misogyny, and double standards. The acting is absurdly exaggerated, the plot far exceeds melodrama, and the screenplay has the characters saying things that no rational human being would say. YET: it's always clear that these people are versions of the irreconcilable beliefs we hold about sex, art, and work. The main character's boyfriend, for instance, can loudly sex shame her for being a stripper with aspirations of becoming a showgirl--showgirl dancing isn't "art," plus "everybody's got AIDS!"--but the "fine art" dancing that he would rather her be performing is indistinguishable from her giving him a lap dance on stage. What the difference? Only that in the "high art" version, he's the one directing her. Throughout, SHOWGIRLS--as well as any other effective satire--provides a key for deciphering what its real-world target is. The presentation may be exaggerated, absurd, etc., but it's clear that this presentation is just "taking literal" what we tend to believe more metaphorically.

    Likewise with surrealism. There's less of a one-to-one allegorical correlation between a surrealist film and reality than there is with satire, but there still has to be some kind of intersection with the world we recognize; otherwise, what's the point? Consider the films of Luis Buñuel--for instance, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL. Much of it makes no sense. The plot depends upon a physical impossibility: without any scientific explanation, people find themselves unable to leave a party while the outside world is literally unable to access the party venue where they are trapped. We will never be trapped in this situation ourselves; indeed, as a sci-fi premise, the improbability of what unfolds isn't even worth exploring as a thought experiment. And yet it works very well because the moments, the emotions, the characters themselves are all recognizable. We know what it's like to FEEL trapped at a party, and Buñuel shows us a new way of looking at those feelings. Many of us know what it's like to be too timid to be the first person to depart from a party that has passed its peak, but what understanding of that feeling do we gain if we choose to explore them through the unlikely lens of a sci-fi disaster thriller? A lot, in fact! The movie is mesmerizing and hilarious.

    My point is that these examples and so many others give their audiences something to hold onto: "this is what people do in situations such as this" or "this is what the world would look like if we really took seriously what it is you claim to believe." KINDS OF KINDNESS gives us NONE of that. The acting is atrociously bad, and it seems like the editor just stitched together the first take of every line reading. The plot meanders from one absurdity to the next with complete disregard for how the pieces might fit together. It contains so many disparate pieces that the center absolutely cannot hold. Any individual moment might have potential for meaning--what if your boss controlled every aspect of your personal life? What if dogs were people and people were dogs?--but it's all surface, no depth, no juxtaposition even. People might be animals, sure, but what does that have to do with paranoia or jealousy or cannibalism or grief or the myriad other ideas that are all supposed to be part of the same story? Throughout this film, I kept hoping that the focus would rack, that something would click into place, that suddenly all (or at least some) of the points that Lanthimos was driving at would make sense to me. But trust me, that moment never comes. You could rearrange many of the scenes in this movie, remove some, replace them with completely different scenes, and the movie as a whole would hardly change. The experience of watching this is one of hostility and malice, like Lanthimos is punishing you for wanting to see a movie about kindness.

    If it were funnier, more engaging, better acted, more stylishly shot, more amusingly written, more *anything* really, then maybe that alone would suffice. But instead this movie is cheap cheap cheap: cringey acting, serviceable production design, and a screenplay that feels like a first draft written in a single sitting by someone who had no idea what they wanted to write about when they first sat down. If this were a directorial debut starring unknown actors giving equivalent performances, then this movie wouldn't even have a 15 on Metacritic.... because it wouldn't have even been greenlit or released in the first place. I honestly want to understand how anybody got any satisfaction out of viewing this, and to anyone who hasn't seen it, I can only suggest that you save three hours of your life for anything else.