Yorgos Lanthimos newest outing which centers around 18th Century British Royalty is simply a delight. It’s Barry Lyndon meets Animal House
“In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail (Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
So this evening Nathan headed to the cinema. I planned on seeing Clint Eastwood’s newest film The Mule, but when I arrived the show was sold out. I hadn’t come all this way for nothing and I wouldn’t leave the theatre without seeing something. I reviewed all my options and settled on The Favourite. It has been generating a ton of positive buzz lately and was just nominated for 5 Golden Globes. I figured it was time for me to sit down and enjoy some 18th Century British hijinks. Now in my opening remarks, I said this was a mixture between Barry Lyndon, which portrays the British as eloquent, pristine and very proper. Where Animal House is one of the greatest comedies ever made and depicts the life of living in a fraternity. Well, 18th Century Britain was somewhat like that, well if you had money and were royalty. This movie really loves to critique and poke fun at British royalty. The Favourite opens up with a few laughs and then quickly you are transported to a room that has duck racing, that’s right you read that correctly, duck racing. Watching a room full of men wearing wigs, and knitted skirts cheering madly for ducks was something to behold, and it was at that precise moment that I knew I would enjoy The Favourite. Unfamiliar with Yorgos’s work, I haven’t seen The Lobster, I knew nothing about his directing style, but after sitting through this, I know I like it very much. He’s a fan of the idiosyncrasies, where each one of his characters has their own little traits and quirks, which makes them who they are. I rather enjoyed this aspect of the film, and it just felt fresh to me, again not being immersed in his work beforehand.
This is a cat and mouse movie. It depicts a love triangle between our Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and Abagail (Emma Stone). It has all sorts of backstabbing, manipulation, and some good old fashion, “I’m going to straight up poison you pranks”. Each of these ladies, who are all so terrific, and I hope to see them all nominated for Oscars. They all have their own quirks as well. Queen Anne is stubborn and needs attention, but at the same time, she cares for her people and more importantly those that she loves. Lady Sarah is calculated, always making sure that she is two steps ahead of the enemy and anyone standing in her way. You see she and the Queen have a secret romance, that is until her Cousin Abagail shows up and asks for a job. Abagail is cut-throat, her trait, she’s a two-faced bitch. This movie reminded me of a rom-com which two men vie for the same woman and try to one-up each other, by doing this that means you sometimes have to get your hands dirty. Along with these three spectacular characters, the costumes and set pieces almost come alive themselves. They bring so much life and energy into this film, and for me, that was the best thing about it. It felt like you were being transported back to the 18th century, but here’s the kicker, it felt very modern. The way everyone was speaking, their mannerisms, it all felt very present-day to me. Which I found to be just super effective. There’s even a dance number, which felt like it was ripped from a Step Up film. A little on the nose, and after doing some digging, I think that’s Yorgos’s style. Nicholas Hoult plays Harley and my god, he’s marvelous. His comedic timing and his subtlety were brilliant. He works for the Queen but they don’t always see eye-to-eye with one another. I haven’t really seen this side of him, he’s not really known for this comedy, and the fact he wears a ridiculous outfit, makeup, and a wig in the entire film makes it all the better. He deserves a ton of credit here, I had no idea he was in this, I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this going in. But he really blew me away.
The Favourite is a black comedy, the jokes are crude, there’s a ton of nudity, and I didn’t really expect all of that. Men hit women, women hit men, this being a period piece, I guess that is to be expected, but I didn’t think it would be a black comedy. They make light of all this, but that comes with the territory. Though the humor is great, it can be very subtle at times, and either you’ll get it, or it will fly right over your head. Olivia Colman is responsible for a lot of the subtle humor and just her facial expressions alone can sell a scene. How far would you go to gain power? Who are you willing to hurt to feel safe and protected? Queen Anne just wants to be loved, she doesn’t have any family, even with this being a deep-rooted black comedy, in moments it can get very serious. For instance, the Queen has 17 rabbits and when you find out the nature of why this is, it’s pretty heartbreaking, and it really humanizes her as a character. They are her family essentially, so she wants the people closest to her to treat them as such, and with as much care and respect as she does. Towards the end of the film, I started to realize that there are no heroes, only three women that are driven by what suits them most. I’d say Abagail is the villain because she had the worst behavior and does some horrendous things. I found this very odd, that in a movie where there is clearly a villain, there was no hero to stand up to them, or combat them, rather just two other characters, not floating through time and space, but trying to come away from all this alive and blood free.
The final scene of the movie lingers for quite some time, it lingers so long for effect. The effect of you trying to figure out what this all means. It sends a clear and powerful message, through just a close-up shot, and then it stays there for what felt like 90 seconds. It was really the cherry on top of an already satisfying sundae. Come Oscar season I won’t be shocked if this has 7 or 8 nominations and could easily be the front-runner for best picture. This was just such a delightful time, I really recommend it. Actually, I command you to see it.
Check ya later.
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews — The Favourite = 91/100