VENICE (Reuters) – “Poor Things”, a gothic comedy that feeds off the Frankenstein fable, premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Friday, bringing wit, surrealism and large dollops of sex to the Lido.
The picture was made by Yorgos Lanthimos and stars Emma Stone as Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life after committing suicide in Victorian London.
It chronicles her dramatic voyage of self discovery and liberation, and involves a lot of sex, first with an immoral lawyer, played by Mark Ruffalo, then with a succession of clients in a Paris brothel.
A strike by Hollywood actors meant Stone could not come to Venice to discuss her role, but Lanthimos said he was sorry that most films appeared to veer away from showing sex these days.
“Why is there no sex in movies anymore?” he said.
“It’s a shame Emma can’t be here to speak about it, because it’s weird that all of it will be coming from me,” he added.
He told reporters that the film, based on a novel of the same name by Alasdair Gray, had used intimacy coordinator Elle McAlpine to help actors with the sex scenes.
“She made everything so much easier for everyone,” said Lanthimos, whose previous credits include “The Lobster” and “The Favourite”, which also starred Stone.
“The great thing about myself and Emma is that now we’ve completed like four films together. So you can understand that there is a shorthand,” Lanthimos said, adding this meant the actor understood why the myriad sex scenes were needed.
“She said, ‘yes, of course I understand. You know, it’s Bella. Like we’ll do what we need to do’.”
Stone also produced “Poor Things”, which meant she was involved in the decision-making from the word go.
“Emma had to have no shame about her body and the nudity when engaging in those scenes. And she understood that right away,” said Lanthimos.
“Poor Things” is one of 23 movies competing for the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, which runs until Sept. 9.
(Reporting by Mike Davidson; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams)