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Whether you call yourself a fan of the films that Yorgos Lanthimos directs or not, it’s without question that his movies aren’t for everyone. They are pieces of art that not everyone can understand or are even willing to try understanding. So take my review of The Favourite with a large grain of salt because I’m someone who can get into anything, no matter what the subject matter is. That being said, The Favourite is one of the most unique films of 2018 and for that reason alone, will have me remembering it for quite some time. While I don’t think The Favourite is perfect in any way, I do feel like certain film fanatics will eat this one up. There’s a reason this film is circulating around awards season (deservedly so), but I personally believe it deserves the recognition and not a win.
Set quite far into the past in England, The Favourite follows the servants of Queen Anne. As needy as she is invested romantically in her first hand servant, everything falls to pieces when a new one arrives in Abigail. Aside from a frowned-upon romance that does have a three-act structure throughout the course of this movie, my biggest complaint is that it felt a little light on story. There are other side plots and hints of backstory that are eluded to, but I felt a little short-changed when looking back on the film’s story as a whole. As I mentioned, The Favourite will be remembered for many reasons by film fans around the world, but I believe the story will be remembered far less than everything else this film has to offer.
From the very first shot of this film to the time the credits rolled, I was enthralled by how impeccably filmed this movie was. It should come as no surprise when you have a cinematographer like Robbie Ryan at the helm. While I haven’t seen a lot of films that he has worked on, I absolutely loved his work on both American Honey and Slow West. He has a keen eye for camera work and I can’t wait to see what he does next. On top of that, the score present throughout this movie is incredibly engaging, to say the least. This is a very tight screenplay, with not very many breaths taken between lines of dialogue—but when there is, the score takes over in a majorly memorable way.
Since we’re on the topic of things to remember about this film, the cast is near perfect in every way. I normally don’t say that about many movies, because there’s usually at least one casting choice that throws me off, but The Favourite is immaculate in that regard. From Emma Stone giving her all, to Rachel Weisz giving her best performance in years, to Olivia Colman as the Queen, I was either laughing hysterically or sucked in by a dramatic delivery. If for nothing else, this is a movie that’s worth seeing for the performances alone. Don’t be shocked if you see this cast sweeping many of the female awards categories in the coming weeks.
In the end, The Favourite is nearly perfect on a technical level, but the substance itself felt slightly lacking to me. The screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara packs a heavy punch in terms of the dialogue throughout and I found myself remembering moments in David Fincher films where the dialogue flies a mile a minute, which are my favourite kind of screenplays. Overall, I can’t say this is one of the best films of the year, like many critics are, but I can recognize that certain elements absolutely are. I had a great time watching this movie and certain viewers will as well. If you’re not intrigued by the trailer for this one, I don’t believe the movie will do a good job of winning you over.