The Favourite

The Favourite ★★½

I honestly couldn't get into THE FAVOURITE. And this is on the heels of watching and loving THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER. I like that Lanthimos is such a deliberate and stylistically-committed filmmaker, but THE FAVOURITE simply fails to unite all the elements that Lanthimos brings into play:

The glorious period piece with the underlit, somewhat grungy (way less than eloquent cinematography, at any rate) lighting. The regal and the vulgar. The compassionate and the vicious. The ornate and the dirty. Despite the idea of these polar commodities, For me, the whole thing was awkward more than thoughtful and failed almost entirely.

On a grumbly aside, THE FAVOURITE brings to mind what an eternal joke this year's Golden Globes were in its identification groupings.  Joining Ridley Scott’s hilarious THE MARTIAN in the Hollywood history books, THE FAVOURITE somehow was plopped into the Comedy/Musical.  Meanwhile, how was it that BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and A STAR IS BORN were not in the Comedy/Musical category? Just because Lanthimos is trying to be tongue-in-cheek clever here (although look-at-me smarmy seems a better description of THE FAVOURITE’s self-engrandizing tone), does not make this a particularly amusing or comical film. I just don't get it.  Anyway, I digress.

I appreciate a lot of what's happening in THE FAVOURITE. Performances are certainly notable--especially Weisz and Colman off and on. Costumes especially but also set design is top-notch and elaborate eye candy.  But just when you fall in love with the scenery or the lovely outdoor costuming, the tone throws an awkward wrench into the viewing experience.  Olivia Colman shrieks in a shrill manner, or something is jarringly (to quote my kids) "cringey".  There's never an opportunity to relate or get sucked into these characters.  The music is jarring, the iPhoney-panorama-warped-edges-of-the-screen panning shots stand out as odd rather than effective.

There is a whole lot of 'ugh' in the movie wrapped in beautiful dressings. THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER had a lovely fluidity in its technical filmmaking while the score and its script were alluringly relatable. Nothing like that here.  Just a interesting director playing around with what seems like a good recipe with good ingredients. But everything comes out overdone.

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