Kinds of Kindness (2024) Cannes Film Festival 2024 | Best Actor Jesse Plemons

May 19th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos | Cast: Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, Hunter Schafer | Thriller, 162′

Yorgos Lanthimos selects a quality cast and has them star as different characters in three quirky interlocking stories. The first, a bizarre film that sets of this bemusing trio on the theme of control freakery, is the most watchable.

Here Willem Dafoe gets the upper hand as Raymond, a bossman who bankrolls and therefore holds sway over Jesse Plemons’ modest guy called Robert Fletcher. He gets to live in a modernist villa with his obliging wife (Hong Chau) courtesy of Raymond’s money, and is therefore totally in thrall to this control freak. He will do anything to make Raymond happy, and that gives the first segment its scary twist in the tale.

For those who prefer the Greek ‘weird wave’ director’s early fare such as Dogtooth and The Lobster, Kinds of Kindness will appeal, and reunites him with his co-writer on those projects, Efthimis Filippou. But the triptych of weird stories becomes increasingly so, often giving the impression that Lanthimos is just trying a little bit too hard to be perverse, just for the sake of it. 

The first part certainly has you glued to the screen – not least for its visual incongruousness. Plemons sports a polyester Windolene-coloured roll-neck that contrasts with his greasy carrot-coloured hair. It’s an enigmatic tale whose pieces gradually fall into place, and this was the segment I found most engrossing. 

From then on proceedings grow more dark, violent and unsavoury, but watching Willem Dafoe, Jesse Plemons, Margaret Qualley and Emma Stone do their stuff in varying roles is always intriguing – even though countenancing this ghastliness for nearly three hours is stretching it a little bit, and you may feel yourself coming over all queer (in the old-fashioned sense of the word).

The titles of each story are built around the initials R.M.F. (played by Yorgos Stefanakos) who doesn’t really have much a role to speak of – in fact he doesn’t get to say anything – but is merely there to serve the narrative as the car crash victim Fletcher is supposed to kill in order to please Raymond, in a final act of submission.

Margot Qualley entertains us on the electric organ with “How Deep is Your Love” the twin theme to the trilogy. She is variously Raymond’s wife Vivian (Qualley) and then a vet with life-giving powers in the final story. Meanwhile Emma Stone is Rita, a glam optician who falls for Robert in the second part of the control-themed scenario. But the standout in Kinds of Kindness is Jesse Plemons who really comes into his own in the new Hollywood firmament pulling off an impressive range of performances; his final turn as Daniel, a flesh-eating policeman is the least appealing, but in a good way. @MeredithTaylor

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2024 | Best Actor Award

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