“I like it when she puts her tongue inside me.” Yes, I crap you not: that’s a legitimate line heard in one of the Oscar frontrunners, one that I can even argue has a legitimate chance at winning the top prize of the night. It’s both your typical awards fare and everything against the Oscar tropes: it’s an early 18th century setting about a crabby old queen (okay, fine… she’s not that old, she’s like, 42) who suffers from gout, and features an actress in the lead who won a little golden naked man for playing a struggling actress. But you know what else this motion picture contains? A duck race, badger-style makeup, mud baths, fish-eye lenses, walls buried under tapestries, smoke rings, oranges thrown at a naked man in a pink wig, Emma Stone’s boobs, and lots of pet rabbits. Believe it or not, it’s bound to be The Favourite of the Academy.
It’s miraculous to see how director Yorgos Lanthimos drags us down his rabbit hole to intoxicate us with his mad tea party where the hopping madness of the queen’s new servant (Stone) initiates an inconceivable battle of wits between herself and her cousin (Weisz). Every single frame looks like one of the numerous works of anti-art hung up in the queen’s castle, with doses of natural light used to illuminate the large interiors that tighten in on you through their arches. When there’s no sun available, candle lights are relied upon to darken the tone, making the women’s angst feel greater. Then when the perspective of the storytelling shifts into this new servant girl’s point of view, the proper look of the screen suddenly turns bulbous as if looking through the eyes of a guppy. You really do feel like you’ve gone mad in Lanthimos’ not-so-wonderous land of hearts.
What’s so grand about these three women fighting for power is that it all takes place in a single location, the only real change being the leisure outdoor bird-shooting. The bounding to the castle that almost feels like a character itself is a creative choice not implemented enough with other period pieces that instead decide to let the lavish sets and costumes take the narrative wheel. While these are still the best sets and costumes 2018 has had to offer, they never become the focus for a second. It’s all just a matter of escalating the three-way tension.
Speaking of three-ways, I should forewarn you that there is plenty of lesbianism that these women share with one another. That is, the two servants fight for the affections of the queen, a fight that even turns near-fatal at one circumstance or another. Although, it’s worth noting by fact checkers that it was never 100% confirmed that Queen Anne was ever a lesbian, and implementing it as a core part of this story probably was not fair to do, especially while leaving out her real-life husband from the story who died before the events told here. Yet for what this film strove to do, it gladly did not fall into the trap of turning the lovemaking full-on steamy, just enough of it is shown to give the idea without detracting from what each character feels.
Now, how should you feel as you watch The Favourite? Most likely, you’ll be rolling on the floor in laughter. I certainly was, maybe not literally, but next to Paddington 2, no other movie of 2018 made me laugh harder than this one. The eruptive line deliveries that the three women explode out of their vocal cords got the audience of my screening roaring with laughter as much as any other family comedy; what got me laughing the hardest was a wondrously bizarre dance that looked much like two courting geese. Oh, and the duck race at the beginning: that “quacked” me up quite a bit!
Such a flavor for humor displays the film’s ironic mindset of mocking the mad British monarchy, for even now, just like hundreds of years ago, women wanting to strangle one another for power always gets out of hand. That doesn’t at all mean this movie is anti-men, anti-women, or anything even remote to that. It instead testifies to all women with given authority over men how they must honor their authority while also honoring one another. It’s not a manner of which one with the most prominent “V” should be at the top of the pyramid, it’s a manner of us all being together, aligned toward the same goal.
Just to be plain, this movie is not for everyone. In fact, I say its totally bizarre narrative and tone makes it one of those movies only made to appeal to a select few who can appreciate its narrative approach. Odds are, a woman getting brutally scarred by a horse is not your idea of funny and watching two women feeling up one another is not the best way for you to see the dangers of women abusing their authority. That’s why extreme caution is advised, but that’s the way it should be. Yorgos Lanthimos’ newest masterwork is indeed a complicated movie about complicated topics and is not something anyone should think of taking lightly. Now, who wants some blue waffles?
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
The Favourite. Fox Searchlight. Web. <http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thefavourite/>.
Schwartz, Dana. “How historically accurate is The Favourite?” Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation, 3 Dec 2018. Web. <https://ew.com/movies/2018/12/03/the-favourite-historical-accuracy/>.
Zacharek, Stephanie. “The Favourite Is a Wicked Delight Filled With Marvelous Performances.” Digital image. TIME. You.com, 30 Aug 2018. Web. <http://time.com/5382740/the-favourite-review/>.