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The Strange Case of "Kinds Of Kindness"

A project with an unusual timing that does not have a specific target niche

The Strange Case of Kinds Of Kindness A project with an unusual timing that does not have a specific target niche

Today, Yorgos Lanthimos is a mainstream director. This is neither a flaw nor a criticism, let that be clear. It is simply an observation. Poor Things! managed to achieve unanimous success, from the Golden Lion in Venice to the Oscars, passing through excellent box office results and great audience appreciation. Certainly helped by the partnership with a star like Emma Stone and the very current theme, it seems that Lanthimos has managed to capture that audience who loves the weird (but not too much). The spot occupied for a long time by Tim Burton and recently left vacant.

However, despite the clear reasons, there is nothing obvious about this success. First of all, because Lanthimos is Greek, and as dozens of cases have shown, the Hollywood system and the taste of the American public struggle to mesh with those who are not American or do not have that kind of imprinting. Furthermore, he is a director with a profoundly auteur and European background. Even without considering the titles produced in Greece and focusing only on his first English-language works (The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer), we have difficult films in front of us, naturally repellent due to their themes and filmic language. And after the popular success of Poor Things! - where it is evident that there was a simplification of his approach to cinema (a path already started with The Favourite) - spontaneous questions arose. What to do now? But above all, is Lanthimos truly satisfied with this kind of success? Questions that may have been answered by Kinds Of Kindness.

Strange Timing

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We are not insinuating that Lanthimos is complaining about the fame and wealth he has obtained. But it is true that some authors, when they reach certain results, feel trapped by their new position and start looking for alternative projects, almost to distance themselves from what has been done before. And Kinds Of Kindness seems to be an example of this. First of all, because of the timing. The film, presented at the Cannes Festival, comes just a few months after the theatrical release of Poor Things! Even less time has passed since the Oscars, where it was one of the main protagonists, and its arrival on Disney+. Of course, it is a project that was already ready and completed, but it is still not normal timing. There is no reason to release it now, and the excuse of wanting to ride the wave of Poor Things! does not hold up. They could have waited a few months - maybe returned to Venice and released it at the end of the year - but they chose not to. As if wanting to somehow distance themselves from the recent past or at least highlight that there is something else as well.

Returning to Repellence

Then the very nature of the project arouses curiosity. Kinds Of Kindness is a film divided into three self-contained chapters, where the actors play different characters each time. This type of product, by its very nature, does not have a true audience to address other than the cinephile niche. Another deterrent is the duration. We are talking about 2 hours and 45 minutes, which is a lot for any title, but becomes even more in an episodic film. The audience is called to start a new story and meet new characters three times, the last of which is 120 minutes into the film.

The feeling is that of seeing a Lanthimos who is revisiting his old world. No longer a period piece with imposing sets. No "vanilla weird" effect with the exaggeration of some stylistic quirks (like the use of fish-eye lens). Kinds Of Kindness is contained and minimal in its scope but still with refined direction and top-notch editing. Even in themes and tones, there is a change of direction. And it is no coincidence that the screenplay is co-signed by Efthymis Filippou, a longtime collaborator of the Greek director who, however, was absent from the last two feature films. Kinds Of Kindness resembles a collection of stories by a great novelist, a project perhaps not entirely successful but made by people who were having fun on set. Perhaps an attempt by Lanthimos to remember (or remind himself) where he comes from. A breath of fresh air after an oppressive success and before a new major project.