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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Poor Things, released on December 8th of 2023, has risen to very quick acclaim, already having won a Golden Globe for best musical comedy film and earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Upon watching the movie, I found myself a little surprised, because most of what I had heard from reviews, interviews, and word of mouth was that the movie was meant to be feminist commentary. The description paints Bella Baxtor as a woman “free from the prejudices of her times” and follows her as “she grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.” I agree with some elements of this narrative, since this was a play off of the classic story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Bella Baxtor was quite literally a stranger to the world; she did not have any understanding of prejudices or anything else really, for that matter. 

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Felicity Warner / HCM

I think the concept, performances, and directing were all phenomenal, and definitely deserve all of the credit that has been bestowed upon them. However, I want to talk about where the movie fell short, in my opinion. I think in order to make this movie something really special, there needed to be other elements to Bella’s personality/womanhood that the film just never got around to. A huge focus in the film is sexual liberation, where Bella is untethered to the idea of promiscuity and, therefore, able to use her body freely without the guilt or judgment that women are taught to feel. I think this element is an important one, but it was the absolute main focus of the movie. Once the initial point was made, I think there are so many more elements of womanhood, or even broader, personhood that went completely untouched on. Bella is alive for the first time ever. There are so many joys of living that seemed to just be skimmed over. The most meaningful scene to me was when Bella was in Lisbon and heard beautiful music coming from a woman on a balcony. The emotion on her face told me more about understanding what it means to feel (and to feel through raw untouched perspective) than any of the sex scenes. 

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Felicity Warner / HCM

The audience never really sees Bella love. To many, one of the most crucial, beautiful, and wretched things a person can feel is love. It is what makes us human. Bella doesn’t ever exhibit any emotions around what it means to feel that; I think if she did this movie would carry a lot more emotional weight. The plot sort of explains that she loves her creator, and seems to have some love for his assistant (her husband) but it would have been powerful to see her besotted, or even scorned or jealous. She exhibits no passion one way or another for the people around her and that just seems unrealistic. I like that we got to see her feeling compassion and guilt when she first saw poverty and the cruelty of the world, but I think the reverse would have been nice to see too. To be a woman is to feel many things, and to feel deeply. I think focusing on one aspect of her liberation from society is like painting with only one color. I loved a lot of things about this movie, but because it lacked so much I do not think it was anything special, which makes me sad because it had every resource at its disposal and didn’t live up to its potential. I don’t think it said anything about feminism that hasn’t already been said, even though I loved the format.

Hello! My Name is Madeline Malak, I am from Redding California and a third year at UC Davis. I major in History, but I have always had a passion for literature whether that be reading others work or writing my own. My favorite book is The Count Of Monte Cristo. Some of my other interests include movie reviewing, listening to music, and being super funny, cool, and awesome.