The plot of “Poor Things” sounds like the fever dream of a madman with the same temperament of a crazed doctor looking to reanimate the dead. Described as a “reimagining” of the classic Frankenstein story, the film is adapted from a novel of the same name by Scottish author Alasdair Gray, published in 1992. Instead of the familiar Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, the being is a beautiful yet erratic seductress named Bella Baxter (Stone) who is brought back to life with the brain of her unborn child.
Yes, you read that right.
Bella drowned herself to escape her abusive husband. Her body is discovered by demented surgeon Godwin Baxter, who uses the brain of the fetus she was carrying to reanimate her. Over time, Bella’s brain matures and she finds herself in increasingly dire circumstances.
Left in anyone else’s hands, such a story could easily devolve into an incoherent mess. However, Lanthimos is considered among the most brilliant filmmakers working in Hollywood, especially in handling unconventional fare. He previously directed 2015’s “The Lobster” and 2017’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Each features plots that range from eccentric to avant-garde. Lanthimos’ most recent feature–also starring Emma Stone–2018’s “The Favourite,” was nominated for ten Academy Awards, with Olivia Colman winning for Best Actress.
“Poor Things” is being adapted by screenwriter Tony McNamara, who previously served as a co-writer on “The Favourite.” Stone is set to produce under her Fruit Tree banner. Production is expected to begin later this year with a projected 2022 release date.