Poor Things Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

Feminism, freedom, sincerity: the meaning of the film Poor Things (2023): plot summary, meaning of the film, analysis of the ending, similar movies.

Country: Ireland, UK, USA, Hungary

Genre: drama, comedy, fantasy

Year of production: 2023

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Actors: Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef

Awards and nominations: In 2023, the film won the Venice Film Festival. In addition, she received 10 Oscar nominations.

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most prominent representatives of auteur cinema. Possessing a sharp and very metaphorical style, he creates completely crazy stories and packages them in his own style. His new painting turned out the same way.

It is quite difficult to say unequivocally what the meaning of the film “Poor Things” is. This visually expressive and multifaceted work raises questions of identity, the development of relationships between men and women, and personal freedom.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the contents of the picture. The story begins with an attractive and heavily pregnant young woman deciding to take her own life. Having thrown herself from the bridge into the river, she, however, does not die – she is saved by an elderly scientist. A complex and very specific operation helps him bring her back to life. In the process, he transplants the brain of the baby she is carrying into the girl.

Godwin Baxter (that’s the man’s name) works at the anatomical theater in London and teaches surgery there. One of the students, Max, is attracted to his ideas. Seeing this, the scientist invites the young man to become his assistant.

He agrees and comes home to the doctor, where he meets the same girl (the old man calls her Bella), who joyfully punches him in the nose. Godwin hastens to justify his charge: she is not mentally retarded, the answer to her strange behavior is that she is now experiencing the consequences of a traumatic brain injury. Then the scientist explains to Max what the meaning of his work is: he must observe how Bella develops and take notes in the diary.

The girl behaves like a 2-3 year old child. She is very attached to Godwin and sincerely considers him her father. She perceives Max as a nanny. One day before going to bed, the scientist reads a book about travel to Bella and from that moment on, the girl-child has a dream – to see the world…

Some time passes and Bella enters puberty. She is very interested in the topic of sex and Godwin, wanting to protect the girl from danger, invites Max to marry her. The young man proposes to the girl and she, after thinking a little, finally agrees. To conclude a marriage contract, Godwin invites home a lawyer he knows, Duncan. Seeing Bella, he instantly falls in love with her and without much difficulty persuades the girl to go on a trip with him.

Godwin is against it, but Bella doesn’t see any point in staying at home any longer. As she packs her bags, she tells Max that she will marry him when she returns.

Duncan takes her to Lisbon and on the way she enters into an intimate relationship with him. And abroad, the girl gets new impressions in full – she admires beautiful views, enjoys delicacies, alcohol and sex. She pounces on books no less greedily and reads everything in a row, gaining knowledge.

Afraid of losing Bella, Duncan proposes to her, but the wayward girl refuses him – she will only marry Max. Soon she meets a dark-skinned young man named Harry, who shows her a different side of life, and she suddenly realizes that in addition to pleasures, there is also need and sorrow in the world.

A little later, he and Duncan arrive in Paris. They have no money and in search of at least some hotel, Bella comes across a brothel. Seeing an attractive girl, the owner of the brothel offers her to earn money. Bella agrees and spends the night with several “clients”. Taking the money, she returns to Duncan, but he recoils in horror – he fell in love with her for her childish purity and naivety, and the monster into which she has turned does not evoke bright feelings in him. However, Bella also understands that she is no longer in love with him.

They break up and Bella returns to the brothel. There she finds a new friend – the pretty Toinette, who introduces her to the ideas of socialism. A little later, having met Duncan again, who sincerely intends to “rescue” her from the brothel, she decisively rejects him.

Meanwhile, in London, Godwin decides to start a new experiment and revives another girl. But, unlike Bella, she develops much more slowly. According to the scientist’s interpretation, the reason for this is his emotional detachment – he misses his prodigal daughter. In addition, he is seriously ill. Realizing that he does not have long to live, Godwin asks Max to find Bella – he wants to see her before he dies.

Mark Ruffalo of the film Poor Things
Mark Ruffalo played the role of Duncan Wedderburn. Still from the film Poor Things

Having learned about her “father’s” illness, the girl immediately returns home. From him she learns about the secret of her rebirth and thinks about how she should live further. In the end, she finally decides to marry Max.

Happy Godwin leads her to the altar, but the wedding ceremony is disrupted by a military man named Alfie. He claims that Bella is his wife Victoria. Hearing about this, the girl, without hesitation, leaves Max and leaves with the young man to his family estate.

At dinner, Alfie tells the surprised Bella that before her new birth, she carried his child under her heart. She, who had an unlimited sexual appetite, loved neither her husband nor her child. He is ready to “understand and forgive” her, but she will never leave the house again.

A little later, Bella Victoria learns that her husband asked a doctor he knew to circumcise her clitoris to calm her unbridled libido. The girl finally understands why she decided to commit suicide in the past – the reason for this was the unbearable behavior of her sadistic husband…

Poor Things Ending explained

Explanation of the ending of the picture. In the finale, Bella manages to put Alfie to sleep, after which she, with the help of the maid, brings him to Godwin’s house and asks Max to transplant the goat’s brain into him. After this, she says goodbye to her dying “father” and remains in his house. The maid from Alfie’s house, the ex-husband himself, half turned into a goat, and Toinette remain living there with her.

The meaning of the ending of the film Poor Things apparently, is that Bella Victoria has built something like socialism at home, the ideas of which she became imbued with during her memorable trip. Max, who was still in love with her, hardly liked this… However, Bella is no longer interested in this.

The meaning of the film Poor Things

Unhappy Creatures is a moderately absurd and sarcastic story. The plot of the film is based on the novel of the same name by British writer Alasdair Gray. In turn, this book is a postmodern interpretation of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.

According to Yorgos Lanthimos, Gray’s work so impressed him with its versatility that he went to Scotland, met with the writer and offered him to film the book. Having become acquainted with the director’s work, Gray gave him the green light to shoot.

In their analysis of the film, many viewers note that, despite the phantasmagoric plot, the main ideas of Lanthimos’s film lie on the surface. The essence of the film is quite simple: it is a story of growing up and maturing in a patriarchal society. As the story progresses, Bella experiences the world through the lens of an innocent child and eventually gains her own identity.

Structurally, the film is divided into several chapters. Each of them marks a new stage in the formation of the main character’s personality. The first chapter, which takes place in the “father’s house,” was filmed in black and white. When a girl goes on a trip, the picture becomes colorful and saturated. There is a hidden meaning in this – this approach allows us to convey the sharpness and novelty of the sensations that Bella Victoria experiences.

In general, by and large, it follows the standard path of “The Hero’s Journey” according to Christopher Vogler. Having left the safe but closed world created by Godwin, she goes on a journey, passes the test, receives a reward (independence), understands and accepts herself, and ultimately successfully passes separation. The heroine discovers herself in quite shocking ways. However, after a while she no longer looks like a monster emerging from the laboratory of a mad scientist, but a living person trying to understand what the meaning of life is.

Lanthimos made a truly strange film – a funny and at the same time dark movie, in which biting irony coexists with depravity and even vulgarity. However, this story, set in a steampunk and retrofuturism setting, makes a bold and bold statement. In the end, a conservative, still patriarchal society must forever understand: a woman has the right to choose her own destiny.

Bella is the core of the picture. Despite the fact that Godwin actually created her, she did not become an obedient executor of his will. Having grown up, she did not follow Max’s feelings and did not become Duncan’s kept woman without rights. In essence, she used all men to satisfy her own desires.

In this regard, many people think that this film contains a fairly direct (almost rude) feminist message. As they say, not without this – the director deliberately made many male characters villains who want to take control of this strange and unpredictable creature. But Bella is not an innocent lamb and it’s hardly possible to call her a positive character either. Having set a goal for herself, she rushes towards it like a tank, regardless of the feelings of others.

However, the main character differs from her antagonists in that, following her desires, she is not disingenuous. In addition, she accepts everything that happens to her with an open heart and mind. Growing up, she deeply comprehends her feelings, which become her compass in life.

Probably one of the central meanings of this phantasmagoric, somewhat crazy story is that it is very important to learn to listen to yourself. Because it is this skill that allows a person to find his place in the world.

Youssef Rami of the film Poor Things
Ramy Youssef stars as Max McCandless. Still from the film Poor Things

Similar films

Here are several films similar in meaning to the film Poor Things:

  • Asteroid City” (USA, Germany, 2023). 50s. An annual meeting of young astronomers is held in a small town. One day, during the next meeting, something incredible happens.
  • The Lobster” (Ireland Great Britain Greece France Netherlands, 2015). Near future. Life outside the family is prohibited. One day, several singles are sent to a special camp to find a mate there.
  • “Past Lives” (USA, 2023). Nora has been in love with her best friend since a young age. Fate separates them for 20 years, but then they meet again.
  • “Wholly and Completely” (Italy, USA, 2022). Young Maren has a very specific disease – she suffers from cannibalism. One day she meets a young man with a similar “diagnosis”.
Add a comment