Dir; Yorgos Lanthimos. Starring; Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz. R. Color. 119 min.
Similar to how Michael Bay movies are to casual movie lovers (even they know it’s bad), “The Favourite” should be to film snobs. Coming out of that movie after a special screening for critics must have been like going to an awful art show where a bunch of millionaires talk about how much money they dropped on a painting of a dot they probably won’t even display. Director Yorgos Lanthimos has not created a profound filmgoing experience, but he sure knows how to make you think he did.
Taking place in early 18th century Britain, Olivia Colman (the best part of this nonsense) plays Queen Anne who has become frail as she can hardly walk and is near her death bed. Her confidant Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) has been given certain privileges to govern decisions on the queen’s behalf while the country is at war with France.
Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at the Queen’s estate looking for work. Abigail falls in a pile of mud and poop as she steps out the carriage which does not bode well to make a good impression, especially to royalty. Lady Sarah gives her a servants job to start.
Not an idiot, Abigail is observant and has no plans of being a maid for long. She learns from the way Lady Sarah manipulates not just the queen but other powerful men around her to stay in control. Once Abigail has seen enough, highlighted by her accidentally witnessing a scandalous intimate moment between the two secret lesbian lovers, it is time for her to swoop in and get rid of Sarah. Things of course do not go according to plan.
Here is what hardcore film aficionados will say; “That was so wonderfully shot, did you see the costumes, what a way to combine sexual politics with royal intrigue, the restraint shown by the filmmakers was uncanny.”
Cool, you’re movie is a series of quotes during trailers from critics at Vanity Fair. As film snobs who snicker at the latest Kevin Heart crapfest, we must also take a step back and admit when a “highbrow” movie SUCKS.
Let us begin with the cinematography by Robbie Ryan. “The Favourite” is shot on film which I am all for. Why do you randomly use a fish eye lens or other cheap camera tricks? Is it because the scene calls for a fish eye view of what is taking place? No. You’re showing the producers how many bells and whistles you know how to work with so you can charge them for rental fees. Don’t fool people into thinking every shot has meaning when they honestly do not.
With our three lead actresses, none of them are terrible. Colman is the stand out, but Weisz and Stone (both of whom I have great respect for) feel a bit like they just finished a British acting class for dummies taught by Judi Dench. Weisz is particularly annoying as the way she breathes constantly pumps up her tits. I get it, she’s wearing a corset but this is so annoyingly deliberate. If you want a female character to exude her sexuality then do it a bit more subtly instead of having it happen basically every moment she is on screen until the final act. But hey, who doesn’t like boobs right.
Oh, I almost forgot about Nicholas Hoult playing the scheming bureaucrat Harley. Don’t worry, you will too.
The meticulous nature of the film is well done. A scene where the queen has wounds on her legs and they wrap them in meat because of the primitive nature of health care is a nice touch. All the little things are there. But if you choose to be so detailed, why do you have a soul train style dance sequence or end with a blow job joke? Do you want to be a farce or obsessed with the details?
I have seen all six of Lanthimos’s nationally distributed films. He is a different voice, something I always support. The ending of his previous film “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is a phenomenal moment. But that is all it is, a moment in a two hour film. Is there any reason why the credit sequences in “The Favourite” have spaces between the letters or the fact that you needed to use eight different chapter cards like “What an outfit” and “I dreamt I stabbed you in the eye”? These are small details that Yorgos chooses to make so blatant that I would wonder if he has an intelligent explanation for or instead uses the copout I wanted to put my signature on my art excuse. Lanthimos is like that annoying kid at art, film, theater, or music school who never realizes that no matter how smart are unable to grow and realize that some of their “intelligent” work is actually worse than the dumbest kid in the class and their painting of a chair.
Suck Factor: 5out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!