At Cannes, Yorgos Lanthimos says world is stranger than his films

By Thomson Reuters May 18, 2024 | 7:27 AM

By Miranda Murray

CANNES, France (Reuters) – Director Yorgos Lanthimos, who was at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday with his second Emma Stone-billed feature in quick succession, “Kinds of Kindness,” said his often darkly funny films are less strange than what is going on in the world.

Lanthimos has made a name for himself with absurd black comedies such as “The Lobster,” where single people transform if they do not find a mate, and the Frankenstein-inspired “Poor Things.” His new Cannes competition entry is no exception.

“Kinds of Kindness” is told in three parts, with different storylines but the same actors and themes, including paranoia, power dynamics in relationships and the threshold for violence.

“Don’t you think that something’s off with the world? Probably more so than the films that we make,” Lanthimos said at a news conference on Saturday, a day after the film’s premiere.

“My work and other people’s work probably reflects the world, and you just try to find the way to do that the best way you can,” he said at the event alongside the film’s stars, including Stone as well as Jesse Plemons and Willem Dafoe.

Critics were generally favourable to the film: Variety called it a “quizzical concoction bound to baffle and delight in equal measure” while The Guardian described it as a “macabre, absurdist triptych” and gave it four out of five stars.

The film was initially inspired by Caligula, the Roman empire’s eccentric third ruler, and the idea of one man having complete control over another one, said Lanthimos.

However, he could not be drawn on more detail, saying his film-making process was more instinctive than intellectual.

“And I think it’s so much more valid for people that watch the films to have their own view,” he told journalists.

“Kinds of Kindness” is the third time Stone and Lanthimos have teamed up after 2018’s royal drama “The Favourite” and “Poor Things,” which picked up several Oscars this year.

“I’m drawn to his stories. I’m drawn to his films. I’m drawn to his way of seeing the world and the characters and the way he goes about all of it,” said Stone.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)