How gastronomy elevates the narrative of ‘Poor Things’

As Bella Baxter tastes the world, she discovers food as another of her great obsessions.

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Gastronomy is projected as one of Emma Stone‘s great pleasures in ‘Poor Things‘, beyond sex or literature. Precisely, the film’s representation of this theme manages to elevate all the narrative and symbolism that surrounds the Oscar-winning work by Giórgos Lánthimos, the irreverent Greek filmmaker who presents a feminist apology based on the art of provocation.

In the film, Stone plays a woman revived by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter after committing suicide. From that moment on, a fascinating black comedy of fantasy is unleashed that glimpses the evolution, the defense of equality and the liberation of the protagonist, who unlocks a series of tastes and pleasures along this journey of self-exploration.

The search for pleasure

Precisely in that substantial process in which she wishes to feed on what the universe offers; hungry for the worldliness she no longer possessed, she discovers one of her great obsessions: the art of eating and drinking, embodying an uncontrolled attitude based on a series of excessive eating habits.

In this sense, beyond fiction, Emma Stone described the dietary difficulty she had in embodying this addictive role when it came to eating 60 Portuguese cream cakes; as an interpretation even more complex than representing the emotions or the strange peculiarities of Bella Baxter.

When Bella escapes to a readapted and hallucinating Lisbon with the sophisticated and perverse lawyer Duncan Wedderburn, that key gastro sequence of the film is projected: the moment in which the protagonist devours countless cream cakes, as part of that dizzying adventure across continents in which she frees herself from the prejudices of her time. ‘Who made them? We need more,’ declares Stone in his ‘boyhood’ phase as he eats the first cake.

However, Baxter not only feeds on cakes, but also on pain or chocolate, oysters, champagne and many cocktails. An infinite banquet in which herring is always present on the table, even if he often doesn’t seem to like it at all.

Feeding on freedom

In another of the decisive culinary scenes of ‘Poor Things’, the two protagonists are dining in a fine dining restaurant, having a debate, and mentioning some dishes of which they delve into their meaning. A crispy cake, fish fillet or a jarred caramel, which could be a pudim ovos, a world-famous recipe consisting of a creamy egg custard topped with a caramel sauce.

Bella Baxter continues to trace her journey of redemption until she lands in Paris. A city where, beyond rediscovering sex and pleasure, she comes into contact with Parisian cuisine. There, a filet mignon is offered as a precious bargaining chip to one of the characters, hot chocolate with pain au chocolat as a token of comfort for the protagonist.

Finally, the closing of the film just emphasizes that cinematic narrative in which food and alcohol are diluted among surrealism. It is a final scene in which Bella appears sitting on a deckchair in front of the London castle toasting her freedom with a Martini; another of the key liquid expressions of the work with which she stimulates her own fantasy.