Poor Things Ending: Why Didn’t Bella Choose God?

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This article contains Poor Things spoilers.

It would have been a perfect circle. Willem Dafoe’s scientist Godwin Baxter finds the recently deceased body of suicide victim Victoria Blessington (Emma Stone) after she’s leapt from a bridge. Victoria is very pregnant and her unborn baby is not dead, so God transplants the infant’s brain into Victoria’s body, which he reanimates. He renames his creation Bella Baxter and watches her develop as a child in an adult’s body. Through the course of the film she travels, learns, and grows into the happy woman we see at the end.

Of course, the end of the film comes with a gag. Alfie Blessington (Christopher Abbott), the husband of the deceased Victoria, attempts to imprison Bella, drug her, and mutilate her genitals. But he’s defeated when Bella throws the chloroform-laced cocktail intended for her in Alfie’s face, causing him to shoot himself in the foot and pass out. 

With medical skills and guidelines learned from God (who is on the verge of dying), and with help from Max (Ramy Youssef) and Toinette (Suzy Bemba), Bella transplants the brain of a goat into Alfie’s head. It’s a sweet revenge for her and for Victoria too.

But the film does appear to lead the audience toward a different ending before pulling the rug out from under us at the last minute. Bella has returned to God’s house from Marseilles because she has learned that he is dying. God’s body is failing him because of the horrendous experiments his father subjected him to, but unlike Victor Frankenstein (this is a Frankenstein tale of sorts), God has not abandoned his creature. He loves Bella and wants the best for her. 

So why wouldn’t Bella transplant God’s brain into Alfie’s body? Because of the operations his father performed, God is aware he’s always been looked at as a monster. Wouldn’t Bella want to give him the gift of a young handsome body so he can know what it feels like to be accepted in society? And isn’t there a sort of wonderful symmetry in Bella putting her father’s brain in the body of her biological father (Alfie is of course the father of the baby that is Bella’s brain)?

There is no way Poor Things writer Tony McNamara and director Yorgos Lanthimos didn’t think of that, indeed the timing of God’s impending death, and the shot of Max and Bella holding God as he passes seems to be gently leading us to that conclusion. But no! Goat!

So what might have been the reason to go down the goat route? 

Though keeping God alive in Alfie’s body might seem like a happy ending on face value, in the long run, it probably isn’t. By the end, Bella is her own woman. God’s laboratory is now Bella’s; she is the head of the household and she will run things differently. 

Bella’s household is predominantly female. Felicity (Margaret Qualley), the child of the family, is making steady progress, managing to play catch with Miss Prim (Vicki Pepperdine). Bella calls for afternoon gin for all, while the Alfie-goat snuffles around the garden. This is not a space for a patriarch. Max is the only male presence and he is the very definition of an ally by this point. He accepts Bella’s choices, has no problem at all with the sex work she did or that she went off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), and still wished to marry her. He also once again respects her wishes when she decides to learn more about Alfie, Victoria’s husband, who crashes her wedding. Keeping God alive as the head of the household wouldn’t have had the same impact.

Then there are God’s wishes. He pointedly explains that saving Victoria’s life, after she had chosen to end it, would not be his place. God’s life and work is shaped by his experiences, terrible though they have been. Would God really want to live an additional life in a body not his own? Perhaps he’s happier to let his progeny forge her own way.

This is also a movie about cruelty, and Bella has discovered the inherent cruelty that is part of being a human. Saving God would be compassionate and an act of love but turning the abusive Alfie into a goat is a better punchline. Bella’s opted for control and chaos which suits her well.

Poor Things is out now in UK cinemas.

The post Poor Things Ending: Why Didn’t Bella Choose God? appeared first on Den of Geek.

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