Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, written by Deborah Davis/Tony McNamara, and starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, The Favourite is a take on the real life of Queen Ann of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702-1707). It is a historical, period, comedy-drama-of-sorts where two women vie for the attention of the Queen and the position of “The Favourite” (as in her favorite person – her right hand/confidante) in her Court.
The more I think about this movie, the more I like it, but it took me a while to warm up to. I’ve been writing this damn review for a week now (usually it takes me 4-8 hours to get it out). When I started writing, The Favourite had earned 6 bloops. This is a very different review from the original draft, so let’s get into it, shall we?
First off, let’s face it, there have been so many similar period pieces about one king or queen or another, at this point they just all kind of blend together; at least they do for me. These stories are so well known and have been retold again and again. I always ask the question, how do you breathe new life into a somewhat stale genre? (I enjoy a good period piece myself, and as interesting a historical figure as she may be, how many Queen Elizabeth stories can one stand before it all becomes old?) You find a royal whose story hasn’t been told to death, if ever, write an amazing screen play about said subject that includes darkness, humor, fun, great character development, and get the finest actresses and actors affordable.
The three lead actresses are absolutely stellar, but Stone stood out as she brought her A-Game, played in this role, fearlessly embodied it and made it her own. The expressions on her face at times were so genuine and well timed. I’m happy that she found a role that she apparently enjoyed so well because it showed all over the screen in every frame of every single scene. Rachel Weisz as her rival was amazing, as was Olivia Colman as the Queen. They were really nuts and seemed to have a great time together. Any one of them could be nominated for Best Supporting Actress (I say supporting actress because the roles were too dependent upon one another and they had pretty much equal screen time as they literally supported one another. There was no lead.). The supporting cast is excellent as well.
The costumes/wig and hair/wardrobe, sound, lighting, makeup, cinematography, set design, are all sublime.
Yorgos Lanthimos also directed one of my all-time favorite dark comedies, The Lobster (my review in the link). He directed this film beautifully as well.
As much as I enjoyed this movie and see the beauty of it, it isn’t perfect. How is it possible that such a superbly acted and shot movie with super gorgeous set design and fabulous wardrobe, outstanding acting, an intense rivalry as a plot line in an interesting story I knew little about, be boring at times? There I was checking my watch 40 minutes in, 60 minutes in, and then the film heated up and I was in. The pacing of it all is just a bit off, particularly early on, when the audience needs to be drawn in. When the movie ended I was glad I didn’t walk out (That’s what I’m always thinking about once I start checking my watch. One thing I cannot stand is to have my time wasted.). We now know for certain that each of the three lead actresses can emulate vomiting, for crying out loud. Also, there was one silly scene that could have been edited out. Why it was shot in the first place puzzles me because it does not jibe with the rest of the film. It just came out of nowhere and annoyed me. And that ending! What was that?!!!
Here we go. Pay attention, because this rating has levels…
The Favourite earned 7 out of 10 bloops. It is a good movie worth seeing, but gets an additional bloop bump up to 8 on the strength of the outstanding acting, which makes it a great movie (if you’re into the whole period thing, you have the time and you care to). I’m going to push that 8 up to a 8.5 for the mastery of the overall storytelling. Watching this wicked, sophisticated, nutty, all out brawl between these two crazy broads (Stone/Weisz) is nothing short of hilarious and the parallels drawn between the conflicts inside and outside the palace were cleverly executed. I think I’ll stop there for now, but reserve the right to change my mind later. Remember, it is rated R for a reason. There’s plenty of sexual talk and action but every bit of it is germane to the story. (Hell, I might have to give it a 9 for that!) Let me go before I declare this movie a masterpiece or something crazy! Enjoy!
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m Seeing Next
Well, you know I have to go see Mary Queen of Scots tonight! I’m going to do my best to get that review up by Friday eve, and I have to try not to compare movies. I hate when they do this during awards season, but the fear is that if one comes out earlier in the year, people will forget about it by the time the nominations are being discussed. Oh well, more corsets and wigs coming right up!
Vox Lux – again, a similar movie to A Star is Born (my review in the link) featuring an up and coming pop star who is consumed by fame. Not a Portman fan, per say (I would consider myself a fan of very few actors/actresses), but let’s see how she does.
For a break from the Oscar offerings, Swimming with Men looks like a good place to take a break.
I am going to try and squeeze in Shoplifters. I haven’t seen a good foreign language/foreign film in a while. If it is as good as I’ve heard I’ll be able to catch it later should it be nominated.
The Hate U Give
A Star is Born
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
A Simple Favor
Support the Girls
Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You
Avengers: Infinity War
You Were Never Really Here
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time
The Florida Project
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro