Note: This is a spoiler-free The Favourite review
There are plenty of historical films that portray England’s past in an accurate, knowledgeable way. This ain’t one of them. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
A dry, whimsical comedy throughout, The Favourite is driven by more than a few strange scenes and more than a few standout-strong acting performances.
The first thing that really pops out about The Favourite is how wholly bizarre the film is. A major culprit of that is the manner in which the humor is portrayed, but also some of the storylines contribute.
In other words, it’s out there. Especially for a film that takes place in a time stereotypically known as prim and proper. The jokes and characters are written in a modern way, but everything takes place in 18th Century England, so it just looks odd. That style adds a uniqueness to the film, and when it works it’s funny.
I will say not every scene in the film works. Some would drag and it could be boring at times. The good definitely outweighs the bad though.
Writers Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara really went for it. You have to give them credit for that. If they half-ass write a movie like this it would be a total bomb. But they leaned into the weird and created something with legitimate laughs and a cohesive story. Director Yorgos Lanthimos, who also directed The Lobster, is a perfect fit as well.
Also, a lot of the theater left the movie confused by the ending. I got it (I think!?), and really enjoyed it.
Another sure-fire way to tell if you’re onto something is by the actors who want to be in your movie, and The Favourite picked up some brilliant performances.
Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, and Rachel Weisz are all award-nominee worthy with their roles in The Favourite.
Personally, I think strong acting is necessary to bring this story to life in the right way, and the three main characters did not disappoint.
A Snakelike Servant
Stone continues her winning ways with her performance as the innocent-seeming Lady-turned-servant Abigail. She’s done the comic book universe, she’s been a sports legend, she’s been a movie star’s drugged out daughter, she’s been a young author during the civil rights movement, she’s sung and danced, and now she’s an 18th Century royal—at this point we can just assume Emma Stone can do everything, yeah?
Abigail is innocent, yet conniving. She is easy to root for, yet impossible to root for. She’s caring, yet heartless. It’s a twisting journey as she ploys to become the Queen’s favorite.
Abigail displays the most character development throughout The Favourite. I also happen to think Stone’s performance is the strongest in the film. I’m not sure if any of the three will win a Golden Globe in 2019, but if one will it’s her.
A Quasi-Ruling Queen
Olivia Colman picked up some practice playing royalty as Queen Anne in The Favourite. The woman tapped to play Queen Elizabeth II in the upcoming seasons of The Crown is good in her role as Anne, but the performance won’t exactly translate as Elizabeth.
You see Queen Anne is, for lack of a better term, a bit of a punching bag. She is stricken with gout for most of the film, and although she’s the figurehead of the country, she’s not exactly running things. The character is best comedically, but when it comes down to it she may just be crazy like a fox.
I previously mentioned how much I like the ending. Olivia Colman’s performance in the final scene is the main reason why. She’s also excellent with her quippy one-liners, and one in particular to Weisz’s character before getting into a carriage got one of the biggest laughs of the move.
And A Leading Lady
Rachel Weisz always has a stoic mystique about her, and her performance as Queen Anne’s close friend Lady Sarah is no different.
Of all the characters in The Favourite, it’s clear she’s the one with the straightest head on her shoulders. Queen Anne is running the castle, but Lady Sarah is running the country. While Abigail tries to play both sides of the coin, there’s never a doubt in Sarah’s terse nature.
Weisz is a perfect match for her role in this one. Her straightforward, scene-commanding acting style is exactly what the character calls for, and it also works well as she delivers her flatline comedic timing.
Should I see The Favourite?
There are a few reasons to see this film, not the least of which being its five Golden Globe nominations. If you don’t trust my opinion, trust theirs.
But also the performances are great, everything fits together well, and it’s a masterclass in dry humor if you’re into that.
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(Featured Image via FOX Searchlight)
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