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Kinds of Kindness – Cannes 2024 (Film Review)

3 min read

In recent years, Yargos Lanthimos has emerged as one of the most prolific and respected auteurs of modern cinema. Going from directing low-budget acclaimed features in his native Greece, to making his English language debut with the absurdist dark comedy The Lobster (2015). He then gained more mainstream recognition with the Oscar-winning juggernauts The Favourite (2018) and Poor Things (2023). Lanthimos has taken the film industry by storm, with absolutely no signs of slowing down.

Many directors have a few years between releases of their films, but not Lanthimos. His latest, Kinds of Kindness, is on rapid turnaround, debuting at the less than a year after Poor Things; one of the fastest ever follow-ups for a filmmaker. It's remarkable that Lanthimos would decide to direct such an ambitious project after having so much success in the past few years. Kinds of Kindness tackles several questions and ideas about existentialism throughout the stories, but at its core, the film delves into our desperate desire to be loved.

Kinds of Kindness is very much a return to Lanthimos' absurdist roots, linking more to the likes of The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) than his recent features. There's a lot going on in this almost three-hour anthology; some of it works, and some of it doesn't.  The film consists of three separate stories; the first segment, “The Death of R.M.F,” follows a man who seeks to take charge of his own destiny after breaking away from his powerful boss. The second, “R.M.F. is Flying,” depicts a man plagued by suspicions that his spouse, who has recently returned after being reported missing, is an imposter. The final segment, “R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich,” revolves around a cultist's task to find a specific person with the ability to resurrect the dead.

Many actors and actresses have partnered so effectively with a particular filmmaker since cinemas inception. Kinds of Kindness is the fourth collaboration for Lanthimos and , (with more on the way) and it's fair to say that they deserve to be mentioned in the greatest actor/director pairings. Stone is putting in career-best work with Lanthimos' direction, and her triple hander here — playing three very different and daring roles — is yet another incredible showcase for the actress. Stone gets to show a heck of a lot of versatility throughout the three segments and miraculously makes every character feel unique and completely different from the others.

By now, we're all aware of how good of an actor is. His cameo in this year's Civil War is arguably one of the tensest scenes of the year. Plemons deservedly walked out of this year having won the award for Best Actor for his work in Kinds of Kindness — and don't be surprised if this is repeated during awards season. He's simply incredible in this film and is doing his best work yet. The rest of the cast are also very good, with Dafoe making an impression with some great comedic moments.

One serious issue that Kinds of Kindness suffers from is being way too long. Given the anthology format, it does make sense for this film to nearly clock in at three hours — but parts of it really are a slog. Lanthimos deserves tremendous respect for experimenting with film narrative — especially someone at his level — but in the age of streaming, it feels as if this film can easily be sliced up into three singular, more digestible episodes.

Kinds of Kindness won't be everyone's cup of tea. It's bizarre, absurd, and downright weird for the most part. Some of the stories gel more than others — with the second segment “R.M.F. is Flying” being the main standout — but this is a film full of formidable performances that make the experience worth it for that alone.

Kinds of Kindness premiered in competition at this year's 77th Cannes Film Festival.