Jamier Skinner reviews star-studded film, Poor Things: Since being brought to life Bella (Emma Stone) has been confined to the home of her creator (Willem Dafoe), until she escapes with a debauched lawyer (Mark Ruffalo), learning about the freedoms of the world.

Release date - 12th January Cert - 18, Run-time - 2 hours 21 minutes, Director - Yorgos Lanthimos

As scientific experiment Bella Baxter giddily spins and leaps her way through a joyous dance scene it’s hard not to think that Emma Stone is deservedly on her way to her second Oscar. Bella has escaped the confines of the home and lab in which she was made, monitored and analysed by her creator Dr Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), with the help of debauched lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo - barely containing his glee in this intentionally hammy and overdramatic role). While once the world was black and white it opens up into an array of fantastical colours and sights.

“I have adventured and seen nothing but sugar and violence” Bella describes “it is quite charming.” Greed and ill intentions do nothing to curb our protagonists fascination as she explores the off-kilter nature of the outside world, bringing the audience along with her. The look and feel of Poor Things, mixed with the themes that it’s dealing with, provide the feeling of a dazed Wes Anderson, frantically tapping away feverish fantasies at a type writer that can barely keep up.

Strength and growth emerge from unlikely places and circumstances; often those where otherwise would externally create prejudices of offput or strangeness. Yet, Bella powers ahead with certainty and ambition, providing an unconventional story of empowerment and determination. Shown in the final, and perhaps most effective, shot of the film. She pushes ahead into and away from the world around her, no matter what other’s say or do; especially Ruffalo’s self-inflated lover, gaining a number of laughs from his vanity, and shutdowns from Stone.

The dialogue throughout is full of comedic bluntness, further pushing an eloquent portrait of personal growth and expression. Caught in a meticulously designed world - the visual aspects including costumes, production design and cinematography are all wonderful, complimented by Jerskin Fendrix’s developing score throughout - you’re wrapped in the visual detail as well as those of characters for an even more immersive experience. The story as a whole has that added layer of believability as it’s like we’re watching the main character’s mind expand in real time, making her all the more intriguing.

This is a film which never finds humour at Bella, but from and with her. The ways in which she naturally leans away from society with her own developing mindset creates fascination in an already absorbing world. Fantastically captured by Stone, and responded to by a strong supporting cast, Poor Things is an entrancing and joyous journey. One which has us connect with Bella as she too explores the world for the first time, being willed on by the audience as it’s clear from the very start that she’s making her own way. And what a joy it is to see her do so in such stylish and assured fashion.

Jamie Skinner, four stars ****