Kinds of Kindness Review: Emma Stone’s Wacky Black Comedy

Emma Stone
Emma Stone

Yorgos Lanthimos, known for his award-winning films The Favorite and Poor Things, may have taken a more relaxed approach to his latest project. It’s not an ambitious epic. There are no period elements or fantasy designs. Instead, Kinds of Kindness consists of three short films, all set in the present-day United States and starring the same few actors: Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Margaret Qualley, and Mamoudou Athie.

“They all shine with Lanthimos’ deadpan genius: in his world, everything is just off-kilter enough to be hilarious, yet just real enough to be terrifying.”

With Kinds of Kindness, which was co-written by Efthymis Filippou, who worked with Lanthimos on his previous work, the director returns to his origins and cleanses his palate with three trips to the macabre, absurdist parallel universes of The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and the Greek films that came before them. This triple injection of unadulterated, undiluted Lanthimos is sure to intoxicate his followers. They can also be confident that he does one of his famously absurd dance routines right at the very end.

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In the first of three blackly humorous pieces, Plemons plays Robert, a middle manager who reports to Dafoe’s reptilian boss. Every day, Robert is handed a sheet of handwritten instructions, which he follows to the letter. The instructions describe how he should dress, what he should eat, when he is permitted to have sex with his wife (Chau), and much more. In exchange, he receives rare sports memorabilia, which serves as the basis for countless hilarious puns. But when he is told to hospitalize himself by ramming his car into someone else’s at high speed, he wonders if he should finally say no or if he is no longer capable of functioning without someone directing his every move.

Plemons is a police officer in the second part, and his wife (Stone) has gone missing on a diving expedition. She is eventually rescued from a barren island, but he is unsure whether she is the same woman. In the third scenario, Plemons and Stone play two members of a seashore cult commanded, unsurprisingly, by Dafoe and Chau. They are tasked with finding a woman who has the ability to resurrect the dead, a mission that takes them about at dangerous speeds in a purple sports car. The theme in each scenario is one of Lanthimos’ trademarks: the heinous lengths that people will go to in codependent relationships.

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The first section is the greatest. A devilish corporate satire that recalls the work of Armando Iannucci, Christopher Morris, and Charlie Brooker may be fabulously uncanny, but when Dafoe’s preening boss demands “love” from his underling and the underling does terrible things to demonstrate that love, there’s a lot of truth to it. The other two portions have less defined and ambiguous plots, but they are all beautifully done and shine with Lanthimos’s deadpan genius: everything in his universe is just off-kilter enough to be hilarious, yet just genuine enough to be scary.

Still, at about an hour each, all three sections might have been trimmed; the creators of the television series Inside No. 9 could have completed them in half the time. Keep in mind that the title, Kinds of Kindness, couldn’t be more ironic. As dark as Lanthimos’ comedy has always been, there are moments when the cruelty is almost unbearable. Car accidents are one thing, but the reoccurring theme of women being degraded by their husbands is no laughing matter.

Kinds of Kindness

  • Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Cast: Jesse Plemons, Emma Stone, Joe Alwyn, Margaret Qualley, Willem Dafoe, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie
  • Run time: 2 hours, 44 minutes

There’s nothing funny about all the shots of semi-naked young ladies, especially when they’re humiliated and harmed. Certainly, those of us who argued that sex and nudity in Poor Things were crucial to Bella’s story of liberation and self-confidence may find it more difficult to defend Kinds of Kindness.


1. What is kinds of kindness movie about?
The three stories focus on a man attempting to take control of his life, a police officer whose wife appears to be a different person, and a woman looking for a man with specific abilities.

2. kinds of kindness movie rating
92%: Rotten Tomatoes
6.8/10: IMDb
77%: Metacritic

3. Kinds of kindness director
Yorgos Lanthimos

4. Kinds of kindness runtime
2h 44m

5. Where was kinds of kindness filmed
New Orleans


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