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Emma Stone is Back From the Dead and Slapping Mark Ruffalo in “Poor Things” Trailer

by Carmella D'Acquisto

Spooky season is going to come a little bit early this year with the release of Emma Stone’s (La La Land, Superbad, Cruella) upcoming film, Poor Things, on September 8. The trailer, which was released last night from Searchlight Pictures, features a recently deceased Bella Baxter, played by Stone, who was brought back to life by an eccentric and god-playing doctor, Archibald McCandless, played by Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Boondock Saints, The Northman). In a gnarly change from Frankenstein, this monster wasn’t just resurrected– her brain was replaced with that of her unborn child.

The trailer shows a pale, dark-haired Stone in an aesthetically surreal Victorian-era environment, seemingly enjoying life as it was her first time through. “I am finding being alive fascinating,” she says in the trailer, right before a shot of her spitting out her food and slapping her love interest, Duncan Wedderburn, (played by Mark Ruffalo) across the face. 

The film is based off of a 1992 book of the same name written by Scottish author Alasdair James Gray. It’s apt that Gray is a Scottish writer, because the plot is heavily influenced by Mary Shelley, the English author of Frankenstein, which is said to be the first-ever science-fiction novel. 

Screen Shot 2023 05 12 at 11.48.23 AM a6cf2Screengrab from the Official Teaser of “Poor Things,” from the Searchlight Pictures Youtube.

The film isn’t just filled with visual intrigue– it also has a feminist edge. The book, and likely the film, gives narrative control back to the woman, letting her tell her own story. For example, after hearing Dr. McCandless’ side of things. Baxter, in spite of being literally created for companionship, breaks out of expectations and forges her own life, even if it is a strange one.

An overtly feminist spin on the Frankenstein tale is apt, as Mary Shelly was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft, who was also a writer, died giving birth to Shelley. She was deeply feminist, and even wrote a book that later became the foundation of the Women’s Rights movement called A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. The themes of birth, death, motherhood and the patriarchy were alive in Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Wollstonecraft’s messages seem to be honored in this Frankenstein spinoff.

Screen Shot 2023 05 12 at 11.47.47 AM adc58Screengrab from the Official Teaser of “Poor Things,” from the Searchlight Pictures Youtube.

The adaptation was written by Tony McNamara, and helmed by beloved Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, Dog Tooth, The Killing of a Sacred Deer). This will be the second time Stone and Lanthimos team up– they worked together on the 2018 film, The Favorite, another Victorian-era dark comedy. 

Other knockout actors involved in the film include Jerrod Carmichael as Harry Astley, Ramy Youssef as Max McCandless, Christopher Abbott as Sir Aubrey de la Pole Blessington, Margaret Qualley and Kathryn Hunter. 

We are marking our calendars for this one! Poor Things will be in theaters on September 8. 

Top photo: Screengrab from the Official Teaser of “Poor Things,” from the Searchlight Pictures Youtube.

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