(director/writer: Yorgos Lanthimos; screenwriter: Eftimus Filippou; cinematographer: Robbie Ryan; editor: Yorgos Mavropsaridis; music: Jerskin Fendrix; cast: Emma Stone (Rita/Liz/Emily), Willem Dafoe (Raymond/George/Omi), Jesse Plemons (Robert/Daniel/Andrew), Margret Qualley (Vivian/Ruth/Martha/Rebecca), Hong Chau (Sarah/Sharon/Aka), Hunter Shafer (Anna), Mamadou Athie (Will), Joe Alwyn (Collectibles Appraise Man #1/Jerry/Joseph); Runtime: 164; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kasia Malipan, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos, Ed Guiney; Searchlight Pictures; 2024-in B/W-Ireland/UK)

“Stylish, surreal and never boring.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Iconoclastic Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor Things”/”The Lobster”) and his regular co-writer Eftimus Filippou reunite for this baffling absurdist story told in three narrative variations, with a repertory cast (Jesse Plemons, Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn, Hong Chau, and Mamoudou Athie) taking different parts in each story. It’s set in and around modern-day New Orleans. Each vignette has a new theme, ranging from control, dreams and procreation.

The  first story is titled “The Death of R.M.F.” It’s about a married office worker, a corporate tool (Jesse Plemons), who finally confronts his overbearing boss (Willem Dafoe) controlling his entire life.

The second story is titled “R.M.F. is Flying.” It’s about a police officer (Jesse Plemons) who becomes disturbed when his marine-biologist wife (Emma Stone) returns home after months of being stranded on a desert island, but acts as if she’s become another person.

The third story is titled “R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich,” about two cult members on orders from a kinky cult leader (Willem Dafoe) who are searching for a young woman (Emma Stone) believed to have the power to raise the dead.

The provocative triptych makes for an uneven and unsettling film, taking a large percent of its audience into uncharted territory.

The film is boldly original, stylish, surreal and never boring, but is also weird and made for viewers with patience and enough intellectual curiosity to not chuck it when it hits some rough spots and its dead-pan humor gets perverse. It can probably be better understood after a second viewing (put me down for 2 viewings!).

I thought it was ultimately about wrestling with loss while trying to get over from questioning how deep your love can go.

The film’s soundtrack includes Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams, along with screeching piano chords to underscore each segment’s atmosphere.

At nearly 3 hours, the three vignettes are an outlandish, strange and eerie watch.

It played at the Cannes Film Festival.