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Kinds of Kindness First Reviews: Unpredictable, Unapologetic, and Definitely Not for Everyone

Critics say Yorgos Lanthimos's latest is reminiscent of the raw boldness of his earlier work and will be difficult to digest for some, but its wicked twists and turns will keep audiences talking, and Jesse Plemons steals the show.

by | May 17, 2024 | Comments

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It’s been less than six months since the release of Yorgos Lanthimos’s last movie Poor Things, which won numerous Academy Awards earlier this year. The filmmaker is already back with a new feature, Kinds of Kindness, which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews. Consisting of a triptych of stories reusing the same actors in different roles, Kinds of Kindness stars Lanthimos muse Emma Stone, who won the Best Actress Oscar for Poor Things, and two of her co-stars in that movie, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley, along with Jesse Plemons and Hong Chau.

Here’s what critics are saying about Kinds of Kindness:


Is it another uniquely weird and unpredictable film from Yorgos Lanthimos?

This is a work of audacious originality, vicious humor, and balls-to-the-wall strangeness… It’s a movie that keeps you wondering where it’s going next.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Director Yorgos Lanthimos serves up a triple helping of strange… At no point during Kinds of Kindness can audiences pretend to anticipate what will happen next.
Peter Debruge, Variety

A profoundly puzzling, dizzyingly disturbing, and dark-hearted set of loosely-connected stories.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

Puzzling, brilliant, and, in all honesty, not easy to like.
Stephanie Bunbury, Deadline Hollywood Daily

The macabre, mischievous triptych is mind-bendingly brilliant… A huge part of the fun is getting caught in the mesh of mind games the film sets for its audience.
Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

At a time when cinema is often maddeningly simplistic or prescriptive, Kinds of Kindness delights in its own ambiguity. It also provides no shortage of things to get your teeth into.
Radhika Seth, Vogue

The happily inhospitable Kinds of Kindness can’t help but feel like an allergic reaction to the mainstream success [Lanthimos has] enjoyed… Always interesting, seldom enjoyable, and somehow both smothered and excessive at the same time (and at all times).
David Ehrlich, IndieWire


Emma Stone and Jesse Plemons in Kinds of Kindness (2024)

(Photo by ©Searchlight Pictures)

Will fans of his earlier films enjoy it?

The film is a return to Lanthimos’s smaller-scale style, the blunt chilliness that first made him famous. Kinds of Kindness shares the same DNA as Dogtooth or Killing of a Sacred Deer, morbid little tales that verge on outright nihilism.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Kinds of Kindness marks a return to the spectacles of personal, familial, societal degradation on which the director made his name.
Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

For those wondering where the Yorgos Lanthimos of Dogtooth had disappeared in the five Oscar wins, the Golden Lion, and the red carpet soundbites of costume parties Poor Things and The Favourite, why, he’s back.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

Kinds of Kindness is not the kind of friendly-surreal outing that The Favourite and Poor Things were.
Steve Pond, The Wrap

Frankly, it makes Poor Things look like a Disney movie.
Radhika Seth, Vogue

Mileage will vary even for devoted Lanthimos fans.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

It’s never been easier to appreciate how Lanthimos’s films achieve their singularly disturbed kick by warping our most universal emotions through the infinity mirror of f–ked up things we do to keep them in check. And thank God for that, because it’s never been harder to appreciate one of his films on virtually any other level.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire


Willem Dafoe, Jesse Plemons, and Hong Chau in Kinds of Kindness (2024)

(Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/©Searchlight Pictures)

Is it funny?

Very Funny.
Stephanie Bunbury, Deadline Hollywood Daily

Discordantly amusing…darkly funny.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

Yes, there are hints of the whimsical and comedic tone of The Favourite or Poor Things… You may laugh here or there, but you’ll be thinking more about the choices these characters take and the inherent pain they endure much longer.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

While most of [its] sequences are shocking, a few are incredibly, diabolically funny, and it’s a joy to see Lanthimos having such a blast.
Radhika Seth, Vogue

Much funnier on second viewing.
Peter Debruge, Variety


Hong Chau and Jesse Plemons in Kinds of Kindness (2024)

(Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/©Searchlight Pictures)

How are the visuals?

It looks gorgeous… Lanthimos and cinematographer Robbie Ryan make crisp widescreen compositions of their locations and although the visual scheme is relatively simple compared to the director’s recent work, there are still plenty of skewed angles to give it an edgy vitality.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

DP Robbie Ryan pivots from the trick photography of Poor Things to meticulous widescreen compositions, centered on some of New Orleans’ least-scenic locations.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Visually, and technically, this stripped-back Yorgos Lanthimos film is a pleasure to watch. Robbie Ryan’s camera seems to relish the limitations and opportunities it offers.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

Here we have something visually closer to the Robby Müller-like vistas and “Americana” in quote marks of Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas.
David Jenkins, Little White Lies

The polished wood floors, walls and ceilings in Daniel and Liz’s rustic bungalow in the second story, which give the entire episode an increasingly sanguinary glow, deserve a credit of their own.
Stephanie Bunbury, Deadline Hollywood Daily


Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley in Kinds of Kindness (2024)

(Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/©Searchlight Pictures)

What about the score?

As he did for Poor Things, English musician Jerskin Fendrix contributes an unconventional score that’s frequently abrasive, in keeping with the disquieting tone. It ranges from dissonant tinkling piano to crashing chords, passages by turns chiming and staccato, and choral pieces of feverish intensity.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

There’s an off-kilter precision to the entire project, heightened by Poor Things composer Jerskin Fendrix’s use of discordant pianos and stress-inducing choirs.
Peter Debruge, Variety


Does anyone stand out from the cast?

Even if Kinds doesn’t speak to you, the film is a spectacular case study for anyone who needs more evidence that Plemons deserves more leading roles on the big screen.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

Kinds of Kindness is a towering monument to Plemons’ talent; it’s enduring proof that he has a wider range between “desperation” and “depravity” alone than most actors do across the entire spectrum of human emotion.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Plemons, an actor with extraordinary range, [is] the standout of a stellar ensemble.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Plemons is the revelation here, an anchor in a cast telling three different stories of penetrating strangeness.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International


Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, and Willem Dafoe in Kinds of Kindness (2024)

(Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/©Searchlight Pictures)

Will this one have wide appeal?

There are few places the director won’t go. That includes places of darkness, perversity, and mutilation not for the squeamish.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

I suspect it’s a film that many will find alienating, or frustrating for its lack of straightforward answers, or simply too excruciating to enjoy.
Radhika Seth, Vogue

Kinds of Kindness risks alienation. Each story ends on a note of puckish discordancy that could be read as a middle finger to the audience, or empty provocation.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

It can be a bit exhausting — anthology films often are, and this one is long — but we can feel the director’s excitement.
Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

The relentless inertia of Lanthimos’s longest movie is an expression of his love for anyone willing to sit through it.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Kinds of Kindness feels heavier and longer than I expected, as if reaching for a meaningful resolution that might not be there.
Peter Bradshaw, Guardian


Emma Stone and Joe Alwyn in Kinds of Kindness (2024)

(Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/©Searchlight Pictures)

Will it require multiple viewings?

It may not be as thematically cohesive on a first watch as some audiences will wish for, but the longer you mull it over the more the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit and the common threads start to emerge.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

I can’t say much jumped out on a first viewing unless it was of the you-have-to-be-cruel-to-be sort. But it’s exactly the sort of film that makes you want to look again.
Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

A week after we first screened it, we’re almost (emphasis on “almost”) at a loss to discuss why it left such an indelible impression on us. And we’re rarely at a loss for words, let alone opinions.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

To fully appreciate the dark humor of it all, do yourself a kindness: buckle up and take the whole ride again.
Peter Debruge, Variety

It’s a release that’s guaranteed to inspire obsessive Reddit threads, one which demands to be discussed, and one which should be watched on repeat and dissected frame by frame.
Radhika Seth, Vogue


74% Kinds of Kindness (2024) opens in theaters on June 21, 2024.


Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros. Pictures
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