Emma Stone's innocence poisoned by harsh truths in 'Poor Things'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

“Emma [Stone] is a phenomenal person, and especially in this role, she pushed it as far as she could and really went for it,” says cinematographer Robbie Ryan about the actor's portrayal of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the peculiar scientist Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) in “Poor Things” from director Yorgos Lanthimos. The fantastical coming-of-age tale follows a traveling Bella discovering the world, and more important, the woman she desires to become. A defining moment for Bella takes place upon meeting Harry (Jerrod Carmichael) aboard an ocean liner. Her belief that all people are good comes into question after the cynical Harry shows her the poverty-stricken streets of Alexandria, from their well-heeled perch from high above. Fraught, Bella breaks down in tears vowing to help them. Ryan suggests the traumatic scene makes her grow as a character. “She will be coming home with different eyes than when she left and I think the film deals with that really well visually.” A storm of reddish clouds fill the sky and golden hues saturate the upper crust, a subliminal nod to their wealth, while muddy browns litter the poor streets below. A hierarchy of mankind is grossly defined with the painterly portrait serving as the wake-up call that alters her innocence.

Get the Envelope newsletter, sent three times a week during awards season, for exclusive reporting, insights and commentary.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.