Poor Things was one of those movies that sent me down a rabbit hole. It made me want tot watch every movie that auteur Yorgos Lanthimos had ever made, and it inspired me to unlock the weirdest parts of myself.

Yorgos Lanthimos is a Greek filmmaker renowned for his strikingly unique films that are at turns bizarre, darkly humorous, and deeply unsettling.

His cinematic style, characterized by a blend of absurdism, stilted dialogue, and an unflinching gaze at human cruelty, has captivated and perplexed audiences worldwide.

Let's dive in.

10 Directing Lessons Inspired by Yorgos Lanthimos

When it comes to directing, I find the best lessons come from auteurs who have unlocked parts of themselves that they're willing to share with the audience.

In my quest to become the best filmmaker I can, I look to Lantjoms as a north star of unconventional ideation and other extreme challenges.

Here's a look at ten directing lessons we can glean from Lanthimos's captivating filmography.

1. The Power of the Premise

Lanthimos's films rest on audacious premises. In The Lobster, single people are forcibly taken to a hotel and given 45 days to find a partner or be transformed into animals. Dogtooth tells of a family who keep their adult children captive, inventing a reality where cats are vicious killers and words have twisted meanings. These outlandish scenarios provide a rich allegorical landscape to dissect social norms and behaviors.

2. Embrace Discomfort

There's an inherent sense of discomfort coursing through Lanthimos's work - especailly Poor Things. This isn't about gore or jump scares, but about a psychological disquietude. Scenes linger a moment too long, dialogue is unnervingly stilted, and violence – emotional or physical – is often stark and sudden. This discomfort makes us lean in, forcing us to pay attention to what's beneath the surface.

3. The Unsettling Power of the Mundane

Lanthimos frequently places his bizarre situations within familiar, even mundane settings. The hotel in The Lobster could be a corporate retreat. The house in Dogtooth is suburban and ordinary. This juxtaposition of the peculiar and the everyday amplifies the unsettling, making us question even the seemingly normal.

4. Dialogue as Weapon

Lanthimos's characters don't speak the way we do in real life. Their lines are formal, stilted, and emotionally distant. This creates a sense of alienation, but it also turns communication into a power struggle. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a doctor delivers cryptic threats with a chilling politeness that's far more menacing than yelling.

5. Visual Composition as Storytelling

Wide shots, a clinical color palette, and a predilection for symmetry are hallmarks of Lanthimos's direction. These choices aren't just visually striking, they convey meaning. Characters frequently appear small or trapped within the frame, highlighting their powerlessness or social constraint. The stylized visuals become an extension of the films' themes.

6. Deadpan Humor

A dark, absurd humor threads through Lanthimos's work. In The Favourite, Queen Anne's childish demands and power struggles are grimly hilarious. The incongruous reactions of characters to horrific events become a twisted form of comedy. This unexpected humor makes the films more palatable, even as it undercuts the serious themes at play.

7. Sound as Atmosphere

From discordant strings to the insistent tick of a clock, Lanthimos uses sound design to build tension and amplify unease. His soundtracks aren't background noise; they're integral parts of the unsettling atmosphere his films cultivate.

8. Collaboration with Actors

Lanthimos is known for getting extraordinary performances from his casts. He encourages risk-taking in delivery, often stripping away familiar emotional cues. The result is characters both vulnerable and alienating, like Colin Farrell's subdued awkwardness in The Lobster .

9. The Shock of Violence

Violence in Lanthimos's films frequently comes swiftly and without fanfare. It's not prolonged or exploitative, but rather clinically depicted. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, the horrifying consequences of a curse unfold matter-of-factly. This casual violence amplifies the characters' helplessness and the cruelty beneath seemingly civilized society.

10. Ambiguity as Invitation

Lanthimos never provides easy answers. His films end with ambiguity, leaving us with lingering questions rather than tidy conclusions. This open-endedness forces the audience to actively grapple with the themes and ideas presented, making the films richer and long-lasting.

What's Next For Yorgos?

Yorgos Lanthimos

Kinds of Kindness

We all love a Yorgos movie—and, lucky for us, another one is happening very, very soon.

Via Indiewire (Via The Guardian), here's the latest on Kinds of Kindness set to release June 21 and starring Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, and Euphoria's Hunter Shafer.

Lanthimos’ “Kinds of Kindness” (originally titled “AND”) was filmed in New Orleans while “Poor Things” was in VFX post-production in October 2022, and in case it wasn’t enough having two films back-to-back, the “Favourite” filmmaker revealed to The Guardian that “Kind of Kindness” is a trio of storylines.
“It’s a contemporary film, set in the U.S. — three different stories, with four or five actors who play one part in each story, so they all play three different parts. It was almost like making three films, really,” Lanthimos said. “It’s all shot and we have started editing.”

Excited? We sure are.

Yorgos Lanthimos is a provocateur, and his films won't be to everyone's taste. But his unique style offers invaluable lessons for aspiring filmmakers – lessons in embracing the bold, using every tool in the cinematic toolbox, and trusting the audience to do the work of filling in the blanks.

Let me know what you think in the comments.