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Bella Baxter or woke modernity

A review of Poor Things, film by Yorgos Lanthimos.

SCREENS AUTOR 405/Samuel_Arjona 09 DE FEBRERO DE 2024 15:30 h

“Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27)

Over 200 years ago, a woman wrote one of the most important and profound novels in the history of literature.

Motivated by the challenge proposed by a group of friends, of writing the best horror story and sharing it, Mary Shelley wrote her unforgettable Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, which continues to influence and be a reference for anyone who wants to address issues such as playing God, whether in the name of science there are moral or ethical lines that cannot be crossed, or the relationship between creature and creator.

The material in the novel is truly incomprehensible, the fruit of a maturity that is still surprising today.

Greek filmmaker and tireless provocateur Yorgos Lanthimos, introduces us in the film Poor Things to Bella Baxter (an uninhibited and disproportionate Emma Stone) who has been brought back to life by Dr. Godwin Baxter (a caricature of William Dafoe) by inserting the brain of a foetus into her.

We witness the awakening of this strange young woman whose body does not match her intellect.

Of the poor cinematic proposal (yes, I know, it has 11 Oscar nominations, thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign and, along with Barbie, joining the boat of neo-feminism that only tolerates single thinking) I only would highlight 2 moments.

[destacate]We witness the awakening of this strange young woman whose body does not match her intellect [/destacate] In the first one, Bella is seduced by the voice of Carminho, who is singing her fado O quarto on a balcony. The sets depicting Lisbon (much of the film is seen through the eyes of Bella, who, although she has a woman's body, is a girl), and Emma Stone's expression at that moment as she is overwhelmed by so much beauty, create a truly beautiful scene.

The other moment is that of Bella discovering a homeless settlement to which nobody wants to pay any attention. The incomprehension and helplessness she feels because those people cannot have what they need to have a dignified life is moving.

Those two moments in that initiatory journey that the film is, represent attributes that make us human, that distinguish us from other creatures.

If that had been the tone and intention of this gothic tale, the skills of a director as personal as Lanthimos would certainly have produced a work of timeless utility.

But on the contrary, the director's aim and concern is to point out, not what distinguishes us as humans, but what makes us animals.

Bella is a girl who has no shame whatsoever, who doesn't mince her words in front of anyone and expresses things carelessly. She questions any kind of conventionalism, flees from political correctness and rejects any authority.

[destacate]The director's aim and concern is to point out, not what distinguishes us as humans, but what makes us animals [/destacate] In the midst of the collapse society has set up in order to coexist, it is true that we can find some relevant critiques of society, for example, that the same behaviour is seen in a very different way by others, depending on the gender.

But the invitation to break every corset and be free souls, letting ourselves be carried away by carnal desires and pleasures as the only vital motivation, has been built on the same level as the poor creature's brain.

It is interesting that the two recent successful neo-feminist apologias have had to use a doll. Barbie, who invites us to play the world upside down. And a monster, Bella, whose clarity contrasts radically with that of Mary Shelley and her timeless masterpiece.

Samuel Arjona, violinist, composer, singer and writer.




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