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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
Service95 Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 
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Kinds of kindness

Joe Alwyn & Mamoudou Athie On Kinds Of Kindness: “In Yorgos’ Universe, What’s Required Is Often Messy & Uncomfortable” 

“For me, the main takeaway is themes of control and coercion and manipulation that are often wrapped up on paper in acts of kindness,” says Joe Alwyn on Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest film Kinds Of Kindness, in which he stars.  

Following the critical success of the Greek director’s award-winning Poor Things, the anticipation for his next creation was palpable. What unfolded was a trio of dark and eerie, yet at times humorous, fables – all featuring the character R.M.F. 

The first story, The Death Of R.M.F, sees the movie’s frontman Jesse Plemons as a man who devotes his life to serving his boss (played by Willem Dafoe) to the point of sheer mania, surrendering control over every aspect of his existence. The second, R.M.F Is Flying, presents Plemons clinging to the belief that when his wife (Emma Stone) returns from being lost at sea, she isn’t the person she says she is. The trilogy culminates with R.M.F Eats A Sandwich, where Plemons and Stone portray members of a cult seeking someone with the power to resurrect the dead. 

In true Lanthimos fashion, the intended message is left deliberately ambiguous, leading viewers to feel the need to retreat to a cool, dark room to process and develop their own interpretations of what they’ve just witnessed. At the Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered, Lanthimos explained that his material is always drawn from the world around us, and he avoids over-intellectualising his work for viewers. 

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Discussing R.M.F Is Flying, Alwyn’s co-star Mamoudou Athie references the complexities of the roles Lanthimos creates – when his character witnesses the psychological unravelling of his friend and colleague (Plemons): “It tests the bounds of friendship in a way where I’m checking on my friend, I’m here for this guy, and now I have to, in a sense, report him because I don’t think this is going to end well. And I mean, it obviously didn’t,” Athie says, laughing at the absurdity of the story’s conclusion. 

In R.M.F Eats A Sandwich, Alwyn plays an obsessively controlling husband, attempting to regain control over his wife (Stone) after joining the cult. “He’s a nasty piece of work,” says Alwyn. “In Yorgos’ universe, you don’t want to overthink things because it’s such a bizarre landscape. What’s required is often messy and uncomfortable, but you need to be instinctual and in your body. This comes from his rehearsal process, where you’re just playing around together. Despite the nastiness of the character, the atmosphere on set is nice, and you feel safe with Yorgos at the helm.” 

To the eye, these stories explore vows of loyalty to belief systems rather than actual acts of kindness. Whether these beliefs are transactional (as in the first story), driven by gut instincts (in the second), or rooted in religion and community (the third), the film questions whether these acts of kindness are the grotesque and sometimes gruesome moments when characters enable others to commit to their flawed and disturbing causes. For instance, “In the third story, these cult leaders may offer a sense of belonging and love to a woman whose whole life has recently changed, but actually, that perceived benevolence is far more about manipulation and what we do in order to feel wanted or loved – or what we think is loved,” says Alwyn. 

What becomes clear from speaking with Athie and Alwyn is the immense trust and faith these actors have when working with Lanthimos. Such trust is crucial when tackling a script filled with absurdities. “When we turn up, we are willing to take risks. We’re not overthinking things,” says Alwyn. “It’s dark territory that you’re in, but you’re like a big kid when you go to work. There’s a sense of play rather than fear.” 

This was Athie’s first time working with Lanthimos, and he felt pushed far out of his comfort zone compared with previous roles, featuring scenes of an extremely explicit nature. Yet, Athie speaks with clear admiration for Lanthimos and his team. “Doing this film has made me bolder to take more risks, to just take more chances with different material,” says Athie. “Even if it gets weird on set – but especially with this one, because of the challenges of what you’re asked to do, or the fear involved. I never thought I would do something like this, and here we are!” 

With Kinds Of Kindness, Lanthimos continues to challenge and captivate, leaving audiences both perplexed and enthralled, and actors willing to dive into the bizarre and transformative world he creates. 


Kinds Of Kindness is available to watch in the US and will be released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on 28 June 2024

Pia Brynteson is Content Editor at Service95 

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