“Poor Things,” a gothic, sexually charged comedy from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
The British-produced film, starring Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo, wowed audiences with its hilarious story of a woman revived from suicide by a crazed doctor who replaces the rescued woman’s brain with the brain of her unborn child.
Stone’s character Bella Baxter, child-like but with the body of an adult, becomes increasingly independent and aroused by her sexual experimentation as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery through a surreal version of 19th-century Europe.
“The central character is Bella Baxter, an incredible creature, and she wouldn’t exist without Emma Stone, another incredible creature,” said Lanthimos, whose previous films include “The Favorite” and “The Lobster.”
Venice marks the start of awards season and regularly produces top Oscar favorites, with eight of the last 11 best director awards going to films that debuted here.
The festival’s main acting awards went to two American stars – Cailee Spaeny, who played Elvis Presley’s ex-wife in the biopic Priscilla, and Peter Sarsgaard, who starred in the gritty family drama Memento.
The second Silver Lion award went to Evil Does Not Exist, a mysterious rural drama by Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi – the only Asian work among the 23 films vying for the top prize.
Lanthimos was congratulated by the Minister of Culture of Greece, his victory was celebrated at the country’s film center and the Thessaloniki Film Festival.