I’ll start off by saying that The Favourite is, objectively, a very good movie. On a technical level, it’s nearly perfect. The acting is incredible.
It’s also somehow a very funny movie. There are some high-minded laughs in this one, as well as a few jokes that feel too dumb to be in this kind of movie, but they work anyway.
This movie also represents the moment that a formerly obscure director stepped into the spotlight.
The Lanthimos with the Lanthi-mostest
Yorgos Lanthimos is a Greek director. He made a movie called The Lobster, which was released in 2015. Then he followed it up with an even darker movie called The Killing of a Sacred Deer, released in 2017.
The Favourite splashed hard, getting the attention of both the critics and many members of the American Moviegoing Public (to be shortened in future mentions as AMP).
And I think a lot of that has to do with how much this movie turned back the Weirdness dial.
It’s still a little bit weird, kinda. But nowhere near as strange or surreal as The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
But for the most part it feels a bit Oscar-baity and that’s probably part of why I don’t like the movie very much.
Which I didn’t, by the way. I really didn’t like The Favourite that much, despite the fact that I was supposed to.
Because it had been recommended to me by movie friends. Movie friends are the ones you respect for their seemingly endless knowledge of what to watch and why and whether YOU, specifically, will like a particular movie.
They all told me The Favourite was one of the best of the year. I did my best to keep my mind open. Then, about 30 minutes in, I had a realization …
Oh, This is the Movie
I think it was the first scene on the shooting range. There’s a shot that’s taken from a low angle, making it look like Emma Stone’s character is pointing her rifle directly at Rachel Weisz during one of their power-struggle convos.
It was so on-the-nose that I thought it might be a joke of some kind. But it didn’t come off that way. It came off as the final nail in the coffin. THIS. This was the story the movie had chosen to tell.
It’s about two people struggling for favor and therefore power, and they do awful things to other people to get that power.
On a symbolic level, you could view it as an easy metaphor for the American political system, or just international conflict in general.
And that’s all fine. And two characters struggling for power at the expense of others is a time-honored basis for a drama.
And the movie is indeed fun to watch. And I remember it fondly.
But I just don’t care.
I had the same feeling during The Last Jedi. And I had the same feeling during The Incredibles 2.
On a surface level, these movies were actually pretty good, and they looked great. Usually, that would tip my opinion in favor of a movie.
But with each of these movies, The Favourite included …
I Just Didn’t Care
And I realize that’s not an incredibly defensible opinion to have about a movie. And I’m not sure that i can explain it all that well.
All I can say is that this is the most important factor to me, by far, when reviewing a movie.
I need to care about the characters and want to see good things happen to them, generally speaking.
There are ways to make good movies about very unlikeable characters, but those characters need to at least be interesting.
The only character in The Favourite I found to be especially interesting was Queen Anne herself.
It was comforting to see a character written with such absolute range. She could be an overly emotional dummy one minute then immediately turn around and become a hyper-intelligent leader.
But even the Queen wasn’t enough to get me invested. Maybe the real problem was …
Emma Stone’s Performance
This is another factor where, on a surface level, it’s great. But underneath, it feels like there’s something missing.
The accent was fine, even though it sounded like the dialogue was trying harder to be era-accurate than Stone herself.
Maybe she’s just too big a superstar, to the point where it distracts from the performance.
Maybe it’s that, even establishing her own impressive career, Emma Stone still reminds me of Lindsay Lohan.
Maybe it’s because her performance in Birdman was so fantastic that I will always see her as that character.
This is all just to say I can’t really describe why her performance didn’t work for me. But it didn’t work for me, and it ended up pulling me out of the story and got me checking the time, hoping the movie would end soon so that I could tell people I’d seen it.
But Maybe That’s Just Me
I hope you enjoy Emma Stone in this movie. And I hope that you enjoy this movie as a whole. I even think that in a few years this movie could serve as a great gateway movie to the arthouse genre.
I think it’s a movie that illustrates the importance of making unique works of art that have their own vision and style.
And I hope that this movie’s success will help propel Lanthimos into the mainstream, or at least somewhere in the ballpark of the mainstream.
If you haven’t already seen this movie, please watch it. Pay money to watch it. Weird filmmakers need more money.
And if you have a whole weekend free, then you should probably watch Lanthimos’s other movies, too.
They’re not feel-good flicks, but they’re funny enough to keep you interested and say a lot about life in the moments between the laughs.
Regardless of your feelings on The Favourite, feel free to comment below and let me know what you thought of it especially if you didn’t like it that much. Prove to me that I’m not a crazy person.