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Is ‘Poor Things’ A Black & White Movie?

Poor Things may have scooped up a handful of Academy Awards the other week, but it’s no typical Oscar bait. It’s a fractured fairy tale told in a daring, outside-the-box fashion. Everything — the performances, the production design, the storytelling, the cinematography — is off-kilter. At times it’s even in black-and-white — a format only used in extreme cases nowadays (which is a shame, because B&W rules). But is the whole thing in black-and-white?

If you checked out the photo at the top of this article, you have your answer: It isn’t. But a good chunk of it is. The early stretch, which finds Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter as a Frankenstein’s monster-like creature with the brain of an infant, slowly figuring out how to be human, goes monochromatic. When she leaves the estate of her creator (Willem Dafoe) and journeys into the fabulous outside world, the film shifts to bright candy colors, not unlike when Dorothy finds herself in another land in The Wizard of Oz.

It’s a fitting stylistic move for a movie that has no interest in being a stodgy period saga. Likewise Stone won her second Best Actress trophy not for the kind of shouty, melodramatic performance AMPAS tends to enjoy. Instead she’s having a blast as a woman slowly coming into her own. She seems especially excited during the early stretches, when she’s figuring out the basics of language, which she frequently mangles in creative ways. Along with The Curse, it confirms that she had a very, very good 2023.

Poor Things now streams on Hulu.

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