Kinds of Kindness – Review

Worth seeing: for some interesting performances and too few moments of surreal comedy that get lost in a meaningless triptych that feels like an overinflated student film
Director:Yorgos Lanthimos
Featuring:Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Hong Chau, Hunter Schafer, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, Margaret Qualley, Yorgos Stefanakos
Length:164 minutes
Country:Ireland, UK, US
Released:28th June 2024


When Robert (Jesse Plemons) decides he can no longer follow the orders of his controlling boss Raymond (Willem Dafoe), he loses his job – and his wife (Hong Chau). When it appears that a young woman, Rita (Emma Stone), has been taken on to replace him, Robert goes to extreme lengths to get his life back on track.

Police officer Daniel (Jesse Plemons) has been struggling to cope, since his marine biologist wife Liz (Emma Stone) failed to return from an expedition to a remote island. But when she’s finally found alive, Daniel’s relief is short-lived as he starts to question whether everything is as it seems.

Emily (Emma Stone) and Andrew (Jesse Plemons) belong to a sex cult led by Omi (Willem Dafoe) and Aka (Hong Chau). They’ve been sent to find a woman with the power to bring people back from the dead. Emily’s secret liaisons with her ex-husband (Joe Alwyn) and daughter get in the way of her mission.


After a series of films that saw the idiosyncratic Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos embraced by the industry – with The Favourite and Poor Things winning Oscars – this appears to be his attempt to win back his anti-establishment indie creds.

Six main actors take on different roles in each of three short films – linked, seemingly, only by a very minor supporting character and a darkly comic sense of humour.

At times, the various stories are intriguing – they push boundaries and raise questions – sometimes they feel like they’re pushing the limits of credibility – but that’s not necessarily a problem – especially from a director who made a film in which putting a goat’s brain into a human was just par for the course. The main performances are always confident – and showing how different they can come across on screen certainly demonstrates their acting ability.

There are moments of surreal comedy – some work but others feel somewhat arch – and there are a handful of moments so shocking that you’ll be watching from behind your fingers – it’s almost like horror by numbers.

But while Lanthimos and his team are clearly trying to be bold – and different – each story, coming in at just under an hour, fails to deliver on its promise, fizzling out or simply throwing in a twist that poses more questions than it answers – and not in a clever way.

Rather than coming out impressed, you’ll feel manipulated – almost violated – and certainly unsatisfied and cheated – fans of Lanthimos will also find themselves feeling rather disappointed.

It’s the apparent disconnect between the elements of the anthology that makes you wonder what the point of it all was – would completing one film not have been better than delivering three unfinished or rushed ones?

It’s not awful, but when you know what Lanthimos and his team can deliver when they’re at the top of their game, you feel let down when you’re given nearly three hours of what feels like a graduation film – even down to its ironic title – from a student who’s trying to make his mark by gathering a group of friends together and finding three different ways to use a hospital location. They seem to be having fun – but at our expense.

He’s almost literally going so far back to his anti-establishment roots that he’s found himself back at film school.