Reel Opinions


Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Favourite

If there is one film genre that can turn me off when done wrong, it is the period costume drama.  Case in point: Just a few weeks ago, I watched Mary: Queen of Scotts.  And yet, I could not review it.  I tried, dear reader.  Oh, how I did try.  I had many false starts at a review.  However, the film was such a total bore and filled me with a feeling of such total indifference, I simply could not assemble my thoughts without repeating the phrase "this movie bored the crap out of me" over and over.  It was the only thought the turgid drama was able to inspire within me.

Now we have The Favourite, and director Yorgos Lanthimos (2015's The Lobster) has inspired not just a review, but one of the better films of 2018's list of Oscar nominees.  From its three leading lady performances, to the screenplay which perfectly balances tragedy with razor-sharp comedy, this was a delight for me to watch after my previous experience.  Olivia Colman has rightfully earned just about every award recognition in the book for her portrayal of Queen Anne, who ruled England during the 18th century, mostly from her bed.  Stricken with gout, and surrounding herself with 17 rabbits to replace the 17 children that she has birthed and lost by this point, Colman finds both the tragedy and the humor in her portrayal, and it is something to witness. 

Not to be outdone in the acting category is Rachel Weisz, who plays Lady Sarah Churchill.  She represents the Queen when she cannot leave her chambers, and also sleeps with her to ensure that Sarah's husband Lord Marlborough (Mark Gatiss) continues to get Anne's support as he is off commanding Britain's war with the French.  Early in the film, we are introduced to Abigail Hill (the always wonderful Emma Stone, who is sensational here).  She is Sarah's cousin, and a noble lady herself whose family has fallen on hard times due to the debts her gambler father has collected.  She has nowhere to go but to beg to her cousin for a position as a scullery maid at the palace.  She even has to approach Lady Sarah with her clothes tattered and covered with mud, as she is literally kicked out of the coach and into the mud when she first arrives.  However, it does not take long until Abigail is scheming her way to a better life within the castle.  She quickly finds herself in Anne's favor, and even her bed, after she tracks down a remedy for the Queen's gout.  This leads to jealousy between Sarah and Abigail, and eventual all out war, as a bizarre love triangle grows.

The Favourite has divided many viewers, and I can see why.  This is an extremely dark and vengeful story about these two women doing horrible things to one another in order to gain the Queen's trust.  And yet, the movie never loses its sense of humor, nor does it go into such levels of viciousness that I was turned off.  It is the performances of Colman, Weisz and Stone that completely carry the film.  Yes, there are men in the film, many of whom are trying to turn some of the women to their cause, and to use them to get information from the Queen about the war.  But, they hardly matter.  That doesn't mean they are bad performances, or underwritten characters.  On the contrary.  In particular, Nicholas Hoult gives a devilish and comic performance as Lord Harley, who is trying to turn Abigail to his way of thinking about the war effort.  It simply means that the screenplay knows to keep the focus on the war between Sarah and Abigail for the Queen's attention, and the film is better for it, in my opinion.

This is also not your conventional costume drama.  Director Lanthimos is not exactly known for being a conventional filmmaker, and while this is probably the closest he has ever come to doing a conventional movie that can be pigeonholed into a genre, he finds ways to throw in his trademark humor, and some other oddball choices.  I particularly liked how the film is divided into different chapters like a book, and how the chapters had titles such as "This Mud Stinks" and "I Dreamt I Stabbed You in the Eye".  But beyond these original choices, he has also made an absolutely gorgeous film, one of the better looking ones I've seen recently.  From the costume design by Sandy Powell, to the sets by Fiona Crombie, this is a movie that can grab your attention simply with its sumptuous design in just about every category.  Fortunately, there's a great script, some amazing performances, and an overall high energy within the visual trappings.  These are all things that the previously mentioned Queen of Scotts lacked, and why it could not inspire any thoughts within me while I was watching it, other than I felt my watch had stopped a few times.

Most of all, The Favourite makes you care about the three women at the center of all the backstabbing and vicious actions, and I became really involved with how it would all turn out.  This is a movie that manages to be shocking, hilarious, sad, thoughtful and heartfelt at various times throughout.  This is a movie that can go in multiple directions, but due to the steady direction and the incredible cast, I never felt lost.  This is a wonderfully structured film, and one of the best of 2018.

0 comments

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011
01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012
11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012
12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013
01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013
06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013
09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013
10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014
01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014
05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014
06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014
09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014
10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014
11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014
12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015
01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015
02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015
03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015
04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015
05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015
06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015
07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015
08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015
09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015
10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015
11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015
12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016
01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016
02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016
03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016
04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016
05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016
06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016
07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016
08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016
09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016
10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016
11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016
12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017
01/01/2017 - 02/01/2017
02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017
03/01/2017 - 04/01/2017
04/01/2017 - 05/01/2017
05/01/2017 - 06/01/2017
06/01/2017 - 07/01/2017
07/01/2017 - 08/01/2017
08/01/2017 - 09/01/2017
09/01/2017 - 10/01/2017
10/01/2017 - 11/01/2017
11/01/2017 - 12/01/2017
12/01/2017 - 01/01/2018
01/01/2018 - 02/01/2018
02/01/2018 - 03/01/2018
03/01/2018 - 04/01/2018
04/01/2018 - 05/01/2018
05/01/2018 - 06/01/2018
06/01/2018 - 07/01/2018
07/01/2018 - 08/01/2018
08/01/2018 - 09/01/2018
09/01/2018 - 10/01/2018
10/01/2018 - 11/01/2018
11/01/2018 - 12/01/2018
12/01/2018 - 01/01/2019
01/01/2019 - 02/01/2019
02/01/2019 - 03/01/2019
03/01/2019 - 04/01/2019
04/01/2019 - 05/01/2019
05/01/2019 - 06/01/2019

Powered by Blogger