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This may be coming from an abnormal perspective, as from a personal standpoint I am not a fan of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster. I found that the film was cleverly executed, wildly sarcastic, and completely innovative; that is of course until about half way through when the film veered completely off the rails and into oblivion. But luckily for this featured film of his, The Favourite, it has received a warmer reception in my heart and brain than the other. It’s worth noting that I’ve never viewed The Killing of a Sacred Deer, so I don’t have a fully formed opinion on his filmography, but I still didn’t enjoy my experience of The Favourite, or at least not entirely I should say. You may disagree with my comments, but do know that I respect your opinion and I hope you can do the same as I share my thoughts.
This filmmaker has an odd directing style, and he knows it. Not quite so much so that he’s diving into Burton territory, but more so within the stage of still honing his unique craft. Yorgos Lanthimos has created a marvelous depiction of greed and the desire to be more than what you currently are, while incorporating impeccable imagery of a biographical period. He operates his camera beautifully and shows off the appropriate angle of the scene as it should be best viewed. His use of lighting is elegant and holds a mystery around everything happening within the film. Jealousy, a common theme within the film, is shown in many different lights. Some for the sake of laughter, and others for the audience to find revolting. Applause is required for Robbie Ryan’s immersive cinematography throughout, assisting Lanthimos’ direction to reach peaks of brilliance. If there’s something to be said of Yorgos Lanthimos, he knows how to direct - it’s unfortunate that he overcompensates with his other creative role in the feature: his interpretation of the script.
The plot follows Queen Anne in the early 19th century, as her affection, once owned by Lady Sarah who governs the country, is seemingly stolen by a new handmaiden. As the handmaiden learns how to earn the Queen’s eye through an accidental experience inside the Queen’s chambers, her and Sarah must combat one another until there is only one superior … and that unmistakably will always be the Queen. Their rivalry is wickedly humorous and contains some legitimately hilarious sequences throughout, from one’s desire to kill the other to just having the other fired, they both seek different sorts of retribution. The duo’s desire to always win the Queen’s favor is a tad exhausting, however, when the Queen herself never cares for their antics and inside just complies as an effortless “damsel “ in distress. It’s unfortunate that the film brings along rabbits as an analogy of the Queen’s relationship with the two women - although this is only briefly touched upon and makes the ending all the more unsatisfying.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Prior to the stunningly performing women in the film, I’d like to mention the remarkable performance by Nicholas Hoult as Harley the politician. He is misguided in his ways, but with the unwanted help of the women in the palace, he gains his way in - even if it’s through some rather unsavory methods. Now onto what is certainly the trio that is gaining the most acclaim for their performances (rightfully so): Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman. All of these women gave us one of, if not the single, greatest performance of their careers, as they fundamentally gave their all to the roles. Every actor fits their proper role brilliantly, and after a moment to warm up to the characters within The Favourite, it’s easy to get sucked into the story being told and the rivalry of the two leads. However, there is more placed within the plot besides the pair’s outspoken “competition.” The characters, mostly politicians, including the prior mentioned Nicholas Hoult, get shoved to the side for the three main characters to have the film almost all to themselves. It’s just a shame that so much of that side of the story couldn’t be told and gets lost in the disarray of several ideas along the way, including that of an ongoing war.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Slow and menacing, this score delivers when necessary while otherwise hiding in the backdrop holding back in the silence while the words take center stage. It’s eerily simplistic and repetitive all at once, slightly lacking variety, ultimately becoming nauseating as the second hour draws near. The sound design is one of the least impressive things in the film, and truly a disappointment as it throws the entire film into a disorienting state of mind - most notably with the last shot of the film.
The Favourite captures the refined beauty of the era it is set in, with the thoughtfully crafted sets within the Palace and outside as well, which is awe provoking on its own. It’s all incredibly enclosed and personal, mostly to do with the impressive designs of the endless hallways, consistent layout of guardsmen, and even a garden maze groomed outside to give the lasting impression of an endless maze of imprisonment. The makeup is simply sensational, as it shows the overindulgence of makeup both the men and the women of the time were forced to wear to fit in with the period. However, the men’s makeup is hilarious to witness on screen as Harley (Hoult) says to another man, something along the lines of “The women want to see us pretty!” which is not only for a laugh, but tilts in the favor of the makeup disguising the men is purposely overdone and they know it. Without spoiler, there’s a moment close to the finale in which a character sustains a major facial injury, and the makeup is not only gruesome to look at but just as perfectly disgusting.
At this point, you might be taken aback and confused by what was mentioned in the opening of this review. It’s a marvel to me just as much, but the fact is that The Favourite fundamentally is a near perfect film, but unfortunately the arthouse centric tone didn’t manage to properly connect with me personally, and it may not with you either. However I’m not going to fault the director for putting a ton of passion into this project and succeeding in most aspects, although I will fault him on the unforgivable final shot of the film, which is not only confusing to the viewer, but also eliminates much of the superb effort placed within The Favourite by all involved with an interpretative ending - the worst one yet for the director.