Zachary⚡’s review published on Letterboxd:
NYFF FILM #1
Yorgos goes in variations and explores mixtures of styles and story-telling that it's hard NOT to be surprised with each new release. As with any distinctly ambitious director, there will be some projects I will not like, and this is one of them. Yorgos' latest feature sports a rusty, downtrodden and chunky pacing interlaced with awkward and surrealist humor so gruelingly meta-cinematic and wittily ironic that it defuses an sort of connection between the audience and this case, the absurd surrealism nearly neuters the movie's rather compelling narrative.
The problem with this sterile disposition is that The Favourite's narrative is possibly Yorgos' most plot-based and grounded film. With it's over-achieving costume design to the pristine-ly curated cinematography to the engaging, absorbing and well-defined character dynamics, it becomes clear that this is his least surrealist venture and most plausible, strongly defined, and layered story yet. The mix between the story's and environment's more grounded ambitions comes into conflict with Yorgos' sterile attitude and near over-indulgence of his own witty and meta-cinematic style. For once Yorgos explores a topic more nuanced and descriptive than stories centered around the concept of randomness, and wickedly imaginative and cold fiction, and because of the competency of the plot, the stake-less and stylistic musings which were deliriously and bluntly excelled in The Killing of a Sacred Deer hardly are NOT as effective for The Favourite's unusually detailed plot. This needs well-developed stakes, this needs more than just obscene and shocking humor, etc. Yorgos' style works better for a The Killing of A Sacred Deer type film. For a film so beautifully intricate in its story, it's disappointing to see it all get mostly clouded up by Yorg's bloodily satirical style. This fusion makes me feel as if there was a lost potential in making me feel more for the characters all because Yorg wanted to be more stylistic and I would argue that this fusion makes the pacing and tone a bit bumpy.
Honestly and AGAIN, Yorgos' way of directing becomes so annoying in this movie. I would advise that instead of trying to mine out any type of subtle reference or insight or film everything in non-linear or daring ways, try and allow simple scenes to ensue and breath. He is way too broadly stroking in his artsy directing style and makes too many blatant attempts to create darkly comic scenes that this cluttering of multiple ambitions eventually makes the movie pretty NOISY and SLIGHTLY OSTENTATIOUS.
Now, ignoring those elements of tone and style, there is still is a lot to soak in. The unusually descriptive story is a great turn for Yorgos as he finally approaches a story more substantive and meaningful even if his own style may, in my opinion, butcher up the possibility for an stronger connection to the characters. The performances are excellent and present this sense of comically dramatic and strangely vice versa urgency to their bitterly flawed characters. The specific character dynamics are compelling and extremely interesting to watch. In terms of writing, I believe this is fairly solid. There are a few unnecessary scenes and the story lacks a few necessary scenes, and this imbalance in excess and lack is mostly attributed to Yorgos' uncompromising style and way of directing. Yorgos' style can cause harm to the story-telling, but thankfully the story is solid enough.
It's a beautifully strapped and wonderfully detailed examination of three incredibly performed female leads starkly plagued by obscene and shocking humor and dark comedy. It's weirdly farcical and brief for such a serious subject matter. I see Yorgos' newest film with a slew of negatives, and some positives; others might just fall in love with Yorgos' lesbian bizzaro world of 18th Century royal England.
STRONG 2 STARS