Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Release Date: November 23, 2018
The Favourite is the latest overrated, swing-for-the-fences Oscar film, but is boring, slightly disorienting, and mildly funny at best.
After seeing director Yorgos Lanthimos 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer and enjoying the dark humor and disturbingly original plot line, I went back and watched his 2015 film, The Lobster. Absolutely despised it. Lanthimos was 1 for 2 for me going into The Favourite. I can now say 1 for 3 with a style I’m growing to hate.
The Favourtie is about a lady, Abigail (Emma Stone), who falls to servant status, and will do anything needed to reclaim her previous high-class lifestyle by becoming Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) “Favourite”. The current Favourite is Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), who helps govern the country and tends to Queen Anne’s deteriorating health. Abigail earns more responsibility in taking care of Queen Anne and takes full advantage by sticking her tongue inside of her. Abigail and Lady Sarah are in constant competition to be in the queen’s good graces. Battling for power, they do ridiculous favors from cleaning her vomit to the most uncomfortable sexual favors.
We get a lukewarm feel for the three lead characters. We don’t like any of them as each has her own disgusting undesirable traits. They lack dignity, integrity and are only loyal to themselves. With all of this we still only half-dislike them. We’re not given any one character to root for or against and we just watch this dynamic unfold, not really caring what happens to any of them. This makes for a particularly dull watch.
It’s clear that Emma Stone is going for an Oscar nomination with this performance. She may be the one bright spot. She perfectly portrays a character working all angles who has no regard for anyone other than herself. By the end of the film, we see exactly what type of person Abigail is and we feel no remorse for her in the final signature Lanthimos ambiguous ending. Even with Stone’s strong performance she is unable to carry a weak narrative.
The Favourite is overfilled with flashy “cool” camera moves. There’s a fish eye lens on what feels like at least half of the shots, which is interesting the first two or three times. By the end of the film it’s way overdone and slightly disorienting. By then, it seems the director is being edgy with the shot just for the sake of being edgy.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ unique style is not for the masses to say the least. That’s fine, but who is it for? The artsy pretentious film student who describes these sort of films as brilliant, beautiful, or smart? They say that the rest of us “just don’t get it” as if they understand the style and that we should just stick to watching Transformers and Fast and Furious. If we don’t “get it”, that’s on the film-maker to make us get it, and a terrible flaw in Lanthimos.