The Favourite: Boy, That British Royalty Degeneracy Escalated Quickly
Spoiler Alert: I will talk about certain plot points in the movie. If you have not read up on your old school British history, then stay away from this review. But before you do that, keep in mind, this movie WILL SCAR YOU FOR LIFE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Now that I have your attention, I recommend for the 99% of people who probably have not seen this movie to stick to the “too long, didn’t read” synopsis and my “Oscar watch” analysis. Also, unless you like seeing really messed up stuff, you might want to sit this one out.
TL;DR Score and Synopsis: 50/100 – Look, I get the critical appeal and why everyone in the art community raves about this film. But….
Usually I like to give a bit of background to these films, and for those that care about that, Director Yorgos Lanthimos also made the film “The Lobster." All you need to know about this film is that it is disgustingly messed up and follows a power struggle between two ladies who fight to be “The Favourite” of the Queen. I see what you did there Yorgos, you can’t fool me… I would make a joke about trying to get away with subtle hints in the movie title, but quite frankly, nothing about this film was particularly subtle, so it makes sense as to why the title stuck out. That said, the film did contain some subtle symbolism that went WAY over my head. So, You got me there, Mr. Lanthimos, you won those battles… But I will win the war, just you wait.
On that awkward note, let’s dissect everything:
In a recent review of “Roma”, I mentioned a scene that scarred me for life. I take all of that back. Comparative to what I saw in “The Favourite”, the naked scene in Roma was super tame and really not that big of a deal. Again, for the third time (we’re not even a tenth of the way through this review), go into this movie expecting to see the disgustingly unexpected, and to leave asking, “What in the name of Tom Cruise did I just watch?”
Weirdness aside, “The Favourite” actually did a lot right. The score set a very creepy/uneasy tone in a way that engaged the audience. I have no intention of listening to the music on Spotify, but the composers did their job given the film did not attempt to be heartwarming. Writing wise, a lot of quick-witted dialogue emerged that made you think and uncomfortably laugh a little bit. They delved a little bit into human nature’s never-ending urge for more power, which intrigued me. Aesthetically speaking, “The Favourite” gorgeously captured the time period, made great decisions behind the elaborate costumes, and chose authentic settings to shoot in.
From a technical acting standpoint, three performances stood out. Olivia Colman as Queen Anne came across as a strong, albeit psychopathic, leader. Emma Stone as the servant turned lady Abigail portrayed the “femme fatale” persona nicely. And Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah was manipulative and intimidating.
Even though the film executed many components well, it left a bad taste in my mouth. For starters, NONE of the characters came across a remotely relatable or sympathetic. I sat there thinking “what a bunch of sociopathic aholes” the whole time. At no point did I get emotionally invested in any of the plot points, the best I felt was uncomfortable. I’m not saying that everyone needs to be as joyful as Peewee Herman on crack, but filmmakers need to give me a reason to care about the plot development and/or the character decisions. If anything, I found a negative number of reasons to invest in anything happening in the film. Everyone was VERY unpleasant.
The worst part of the film stemmed from its unnecessarily excessive crude material. I am all for movies pushing the envelope, but there needs to be a point to all of it. For instance, “The Wolf of Wall Street” went all out on the nastiness, but they did that to shed light on the crazy lifestyles (and questionable character) of Wall Street stockbrokers. All of the crazy disgusting stuff in “The Favourite” seemed completely out of line and only there for the sake of shock value. You can create a good movie without needing to go way over the top like that. For instance, one scene (which went on for way too long) had men throwing tomatoes at a completely naked fat guy dancing around and laughing for some messed up reason. Excuse me, but WHY was this necessary? My goodness, just get to the point already, nobody wants to see that garbage. I don’t even know what that fat guy’s parents were thinking seeing their son on screen like that. That was just the tip of the iceberg on the silliness too, I would rather not get into the rest of it.
After the film, my parents (DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE WITH YOUR FAMILY, Mistake #1 on my end right there) explained to me the symbolism behind some of the more messed up parts. Even after their explanation, I did not care for it. They made those points with their dialogue, no need to ruin my life like that.
Although “The Favourite” executed a lot right from an objective standpoint, I left the film feeling unpleasant. At the end of the day, I want movies to possess something to latch onto and enjoy. This film failed miserably in that regard.
Every year, there is one movie that gets WAY more recognition than I think it deserves. Ladies and gentlemen, it took nearly the whole Oscar season, but we have finally found this year’s rendition. “The Favourite” possesses roughly a 90 percent chance of nomination for “Best Picture.” and I would not be surprised if it wins multiple awards for the sole purpose of pissing me off. I will sort them into two categories: “serious contender” and “likely nomination with a small chance at winning.” To reiterate: I would not give this film ANY awards, but for this section I need to take a step back and genuinely evaluate chances from a third-party perspective.
Best Original Screenplay: Dialogue was quick witted, crisp and intelligent. It will definitely be in the running for this category.
Best Actress – Olivia Colman as Queen Anne: One of the prime components of a solid acting performance involves overcoming some kind of physical, mental or exterior conflict. Colman portrayed a Queen struggling with gout quite well, and deserves serious consideration for the award.
Best Costume Design: They portrayed the time period excellently and with vibrant colors. I liked “Black Panther”s originality a lot more in this department, but if anything will take them down, it is “The Favourite.”
Best Production Design: Same as the above category, the setting was super authentic. However, I liked “Black Panther” better. Should be another two horse race there with maybe “First Man” playing the role of spoiler.
Likely Nomination with a Small Chance at Winning:
Best Supporting Actress - Emma Stone as Abigail: She showed nice range and poise throughout the course of the film, even if her character came across as unsympathetic for the most part.
Best Supporting Actress (yes, not a typo) – Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah: It’s rare that a film will receive two nominations in one category, but in this case, both characters possessed a solid amount of screen time and brought different skills to the table. Both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone turned in solid performances, but also detracted from each other’s screen time. If the Academy decides that one of them win over the other, I suppose that means they pick their own version of “The Favourite”. Note to Director Lanthimos: two can play at this game.
Best Editing: The film contained some interesting transitions/cuts and generally speaking incorporated some cool footage.
Best Cinematography: They made everything seem so trippy, which helped with the bizarre vibe they were going for.