Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writer/s: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Starring: Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, James Smith, Nicholas Hoult, and more.
Picture from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5083738/
Yorgos Lanthimos, quite the unique director. Quite possibly best known for his work on “The Lobster” and more recently, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”. His work is not for everyone and it is surely not for the faint of heart. Whether that be subject matter or purely on a dark comedy basis. To my surprise, Yorgos has scored quite the feat with his 2018 film, “The Favourite”. Achieving a Best Picture nominee as well as nine other nominations.
Now I personally am quite the fan of “The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”. As I caught wind of this film garnering attention, my excitement increased. Friends of mine raved about the film once they saw it and I was incredibly excited to lock my eyes on this work. Now whether it gains my favor, that is a question answered in the Oberrating…
“In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.”
It truly upsets me that “The Favourite” does not land well with me. Baffles me even. Again, I am a big fan of director Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous work. They disturb me, they make me laugh at everything I probably should not have, and these movies sit with me for quite some time after I finish my views. I expected the exact same from “The Favourite” and to my displeasure, the film falls short. Everything I love about a Yorgos film did not happen with this piece, or, rather, it did not do it nearly as well as the previous films. I found myself bored, quiet, and un-entertained by the biopic/dark comedy/drama. These were two hours that truly droned on. As the film paced forward, I kept saying to myself, “Okay, nothing too good yet. Another five minutes, I will get into this.” Well, those five minutes continued on for two hours until its unsatisfactory ending to fit an unsatisfactory film.
While I may not have favored….. Ha…. this film. I will not sit here and say it is a failure. “The Favourite” has many other pieces to the film that do wonders for its art. For one, I think the score is wonderful. With each moment came a fitting piece to match and it really brought every scene together.
Next, Rachel Weisz. Oh my lord is this woman a powerhouse! Rachel plays the incredibly powerful Lady Sarah who is basically Queen Anne’s right hand woman. With every waking moment, Rachel brings her character to life with such conviction and strength, it had me snapped to attention at her near every word. If there was one thing that makes this film worth it, it is the showcase of talent that Rachel Weisz brings to the screen.
Lastly, like the score, the set and scenery really brought this film together. After brief research, I learned that much of this film uses natural light. Practically no scene uses artificial lighting which truly makes “The Favourite” feel authentic and real. When this happens, I find myself appreciating the efforts the film’s production crew puts forth to make a movie an experience rather than a two hour sit down.
Now, I will backtrack to some negatives. As I said Rachel Weisz was the show-stealer for this film. The notable performances seem to stop there for me. First starting with the wonderful Emma Stone who plays Abigail. Emma has many flashes of great moments. She truly comes to be as she plays “a viper”, as Lady Sarah describes Abigail. She is sadistic, she is clever and calculated. But for many other moments, she is just kind of there. None of her dark comedic spots hit too well with me. Maybe it was the shadow she was performing in under Weisz but regardless, nothing impressive.
Olivia Coleman is next up to bat. For me, she is the least impressive part of this film playing the lead, Queen Anne. She splits her personality at times as she is frail and sick. And while this can be viewed as impressive…maybe… to others. It was once again just another underwhelming performance that I could not get invested in.
This film left me quite upset with even myself. Maybe I missed something? Maybe the style and art was too advanced for me? Or maybe deep down it is just not that great of a film. At the end of the day, that is the beauty of film and art overall. Everyone has their opinion on what they take in from a work. Unfortunately, contrary to my appreciation of Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous work, “The Favourite” lands near the bottom of my Best Picture list and overall a forgettable piece of work.
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