Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"The Favorite'"

Which I must first acknowledge was not mine.

(Although it got a 95 “Approval Rating” in Rotten Tomatoes.  Which I believe is quite good.)

We decided to see The Favourite because it was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed (and co-wrote) The Lobster, which we liked, and because it was screening at the Writer’s Guild Theater, so it was free.  

Proving it is possible not to enjoy “free.”  Because you have to drive there and drive back.  Even “Free-at-Home” – like when they send out “screeners” – can be… 

No, even can’t complain about “Free at-Home.”  

Though, on occasion, I have. 

The Lobster– cribbing from Wikipedia– is an absurdist, dystopian, black comedy whose plot involves single people being given 45 days to find a romantic partner or otherwise be turned into an animal.  (An animal of their choice, so it is not as ugly as it sounds.)

I liked The Lobster (2015) for its refreshing, off-kilter quirkiness. So – one movie recommending another – there we were at The Favourite.  “English Spelling.”  Not a mistake.

Attending The Favourite was a mistake.

Early 18th Century monarch Queen Anne was physically unhealthy and mentally unsturdy.  The film’s storyline concerns a new arrival to the palace, ultimately leading to two ruthless adversaries, vying intensely to be the Queen’s – hence the name of the movie – “favourite.”  

“Palace intrigue” is not an unusual movie storyline.  (SeeThe Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex 1939).  What makes The Favourite distinct is that the two rivals for the Queen’s favour – man, I’m getting tired of typing those “u’s” – are both women.

The Queen’s original confidante and advisor is closer to her age.  The fresher arrival earns the Queen’s approval for, um, “doing stuff” better than “Favourite Number 1.”  And “Her Majesty” is not at all shy about mentioning the upgrade.

In fact, one of the jarring surprises in The Favourite is the use of colorful language, absent in cinematic costume dramas of the past.  Talk about your “potty-mouthed courtiers.”

Here’s the thing, though.

Once you get past the uniqueness of the competitors for indomitable “Power-Behind-The-Throne” being female, its like a “wheelchair” version of The Odd Couple.  It starts out feeling different but it ends up The Odd Couple. 

“Fiercely determined” is “fiercely determined.”  

Then what?

Well, one“Then what?” – this being your standard Yorgos Lanthimos movie – are the film’s eye-catching inclusions, the most memorable – as a sample of “Period Entertainment” – a cackling fat man, clutching his private area, being pelted by oranges.  

I am no expert aficionado. But I have never seen that before in a movie.

The other, likely more enduring “Then what?”, the one that may cause me to revise my evaluation of the film in the future, is the acting.  Especially the portrayal of the ‘underlying connection’ between the Queen (played by Olivia Colman) and her eventually discarded “BFF” (played by Rachel Weisz.)  

That’s what happens sometimes.  I think back on a movie and only then, do I appreciate the subtleties.  Which may, someday, include the pivotal female “triumvirate.” (Which is wrong, because the “vir” in the middle is Latin for “man.”)

That “awakening”, however, has not occurred as of this writing.

I saw The Favorite yesterday.

And, as for now:

Not my favorite.

Rotten Tomatoes says I’m not alone in that reaction.

5 per cent of the people who’ve seen it agree with me.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I very much want to see this movie, primarily because I visited Blenheim Palace in April, and Sarah was very much in evidence there. There was even a whole hologram experience devoted to her and I’d really like to see how this movie differs in its interpretation of events.