For “Kinds of Kindness,” Yorgos Lanthimos Had a Totally Different Approach to World-Building

The film’s first part, “The Death of R.M.F.,” follows a man named Robert (Jesse Plemons) whose entire life—including his meal times, ability to have a child, and even his home’s security code—is controlled by his boss, Raymond (Willem Dafoe). The two characters’ houses illustrate their dynamic: Robert’s ranch home is perfectly contemporary, the stylish ideal of a millennial family home, but it is absent of the personal idiosyncrasies that a man who cares to make his own choices might put in place. By contrast, from the exterior alone, Raymond’s 18th-century home makes it clear that he’s distinguished. Inside, it’s full of distinct touches selected by Gasparro and his team to make it clear that he’s a highly discerning man. The main living space, which Gasparro crafted as a space for Raymond “to hold court,” features a mix of antiques, including a massive Biedermeier sofa, some modern pieces, and artwork by Julian Schnabel.

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Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley perch on the Biedermeier sofa in the first part of the film.

Photo: Atsushi Nishijima / Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

“R.M.F. is Flying,” the film’s second part, follows Daniel (Plemons), a man whose wife, Liz (Emma Stone), doesn’t seem like herself when she returns home after being lost at sea. With wood paneling, a normal amount of clutter, and a humble stained glass panel in the window, the couple’s house provides a humdrum backdrop that foils the disturbing events that take place inside. Lanthimos hoped to work with natural light more in this film, compared to the studio-based Poor Things, and the primary bedroom, with two huge windows framing the bed, gave the director the ability to do so.

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“[The house] felt kind of warm in a way, although some horrible things happen in it in the story,” Lanthimos says, describing the home in the second part of the film. “I like that contradiction as well. Like there is a very warm, bright space, but anything can happen in it.”

Photo: Atsushi Nishijima

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