Movie review: The Favourite (2018)

The acting in the Favourite by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone was excellent.

The Favourite Yorgos Lanthimos
Weisz, Stone, Colman

Unless you’re paying close attention to movie releases, it may have been confusing to see two costume dramas released about the same time frame. One was The Favourite, set in the early 18th century with England is at war with the French, and Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is unwell. The other was Mary, Queen of Scots, with the titular character (Saoirse Ronan) struggling to regain the English throne against Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie).

My wife and I opted for the former at The Spectrum in Albany because it fared better with the critics (94% positive) than Mary (62% positive). Moreover, people whose opinions I value also liked it.

The Favourite is, I gather, supposed to be comedy posing as a historical drama with a touch of palace intrigue. The humor (humour?) presumably was supposed to come from these British historical figures who one would think would be stuffy and reserved. Instead, they’re bawdy and crude. The concept I think is a valid one.

It didn’t work for me. Perhaps the film was just too weird. I didn’t laugh very much, though the disco dancing – seriously – was entertaining. The ending had several of us in the theater after the lights came up discussing it with WTH bemusement. The revenge of the bunnies?

This is is not to say that it was without merit. The acting, by Colman; Rachel Weisz as aide de camp Lady Sarah, who often acted as head of state; and Emma Stone as Sarah’s cousin Abigail, who had fallen on hard times and finesses her way into the Queen’s good graces, was excellent. The class struggle narrative was interesting, though it fell apart. My wife noted, correctly, that Weisz is “a very handsome woman,” and Rachel and I share a birthday.

I wish I had seen The Lobster (2015), which Yorgos Lanthimos not only directed but also co-wrote. I recall that most people either loved or hated it. It also featured Weisz, and in a small role, Colman.

The Favourite is going to get all sorts of technical nominations, maybe for cinematography, costume design and other categories. My wife mused that it was a movie for which we were somehow not privy to the code. I don’t regret seeing it, but I shan’t watch it again.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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