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Kind Of Kindness Review: An Exploration Into Power & Control

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Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to his weird roots with the anthological Kind of Kindness. Starring regular collaborators Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, and Joe Alwyn alongside newbies Jesse Plemons, Mamoudou Athie, and Hong Chau, it’s a layered exploration of cults and conspiracies. 

After more commercially accepted The Favourite and Poor Things, Lanthimos bravely rejects commercial endeavors to keep it weird. Kindness is split into three parts, with the same actors playing different characters. One common thread links all three sections: the self-destructive dependency humans have on their personal belief systems. 

Everyone is looking for something that allows them to be manipulated, whether it’s genuine love or something more supernatural. But Lanthimos isn’t too intrigued in offering answers, instead finding dark humor in society’s desire to belong to anything that will accept them.

Searchlight Pictures

All three sections are named after a mysterious recurring character named RMF (Yorgos Stefanakos), even if it’s just him eating a sandwich. The first vignette follows Robert (Plemons), whose boss, Raymond (Dafoe), controls every inch of his life, from the books he reads to the lunch he eats. The final straw comes when he is asked to hit a stranger with his car and cause enough injury to be hospitalized, which leads to him meeting Emma Stone’s mysterious woman.

In the second vignette, Daniel (Plemons) is unnerved when his scientist wife, Liz (Stone), returns to his life after going missing on an expedition. He starts to become suspicious when the woman who returns isn’t the same as the woman who left.

In the third and final section. Emily (Stone) and Andrew (Plemons) are part of a cult fixated on the arrival of a prophet. Emily chooses her new cult (led by Dafoe and Chau) over his husband (Joe Alwyn) and daughter.