Rob Reviews "The Favourite"
Every once in a while, a film comes along that touches us as a people, gives us hope for the future, and brings us together. A film that in its beauty will have generations to come speaking of its impact and culture changing subject matter. A film that embraces the human condition and pulls at our heartstrings in the most perfect of ways.
Although it is good, “The Favourite” is not that film.
The director of “The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Yorgos Lanthimos, stretches his filmmaking chops by helming a film that he did not write or have written by Efthimis Filippou for the first time in a story based on true events that surround Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and two of her closest advisors. As the film begins, Abigail (Emma Stone) comes to the castle after her family has fallen on hard times in order to gain employment from her cousin and the Queen’s trusted aide in Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). After seeing an opportunity to get noticed for the right reasons, she starts a climb to power and influence that changes the dynamics of not only all three women, but reaches to Parliament, the military, and even England itself.
Let me be clear here: this is not a film that was even intended for a mass audience. Much like Lanthimos’ other films, this is more of an independent-style of film that does carry a budget seen in the production value and costuming (which is pretty stellar). His random use of fish-eye lenses on camera shots is hit-or-miss for me and could be seen as jarring by some, but at its core this is fits into the British farce genre, which is not one that is visited much nowadays.
Personally, I found this film quirky and funny with a story that was intriguing and had some laugh out loud moments at its (intentional) absurdity at times. It is a bit longer than it should be, but I feel like Lanthimos wanted a number of layers to be represented in order to form a complete story that just tends to weigh things down. Colman absolutely shines in her role (for those unaware, she is QEII in “The Crown”), showing the insecurities of Queen Anne in a way that establishes her as a royal that knows her power but is more worried about having the love of everyone than to upset anyone that would stand in the way of her own happiness, especially as her madness progresses. Weisz is wickedly evil and fun while Stone plays well off of both of them albeit with an accent that is not quite fully committed. There is also a great performance by “X-Men: First Class” star Nicholas Hoult as Harley, a wealthy land owner who stands against the war against France as it is raising taxes against the land he owns and has a plan to use Abigail to be his mole inside the organization. His wanna-be upper crust character is a great comic foil to the cat-and-mouse evil that Abigail and Sara are playing against each other at Anne’s expense that rounds out the main cast very nicely.
This is a film that knows exactly what it wants to be and embraces it fully. Basically “Dangerous Liaisons” or “All About Eve” if it were written by a more modern Monty Python-style troupe with more of one of the odder endings I have seen in a long while, this is one of those guilty pleasure style film that many will realize is not necessarily a guilty pleasure because a chunk of us will have seen it.