This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nicolas Carrillo’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The Favourite is a masterpiece, what a shocker.
I know everyone says Roma should have won this award without hesitation, but honestly, I'm VERY conflicted after seeing this movie. This film has some of the most well-lit and aesthetically framed shots I probably will ever see, with Yorgo's unique style that makes every shot claustrophobic. The shots are displayed so wide (especially with that amazing fish-eye lense) to make the audience feel like they're in a prison. And that's another way this film masterfully builds tension. The visuals express the characters in their lifeless and lonely environments. Each long hallway that the characters have to traverse their way across, to me, symbolizes how excruciating it is to get your way to power in a society like this. The emptiness that the production design brings to this film is unmatched. If you can't tell, this should have won Best Production Design by a country mile. And there are many other things to appreciate about Robbie Ryan's immaculate cinematography. Whenever Queen Anne has one of her "episodes", like for example the dance scene, Yorgos chooses to zoom in on her face and blurs everything else in the background to give a cinematic and claustrophobic feel. If this hasn't made it clear enough, this is one of the most beautifully shot and expertly lit films I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.
THE PERFORMANCES AND CHARACTERS
I really don't want to say anything here, because the main three performances in this film make maybe one of the best ensembles of all time, and there's quite possibly nothing left for me to say about them. Each performance perfectly embodies each character, and in my opinion, all of them deserved Oscars in their own right. But now onto characters. One thing I think people confuse sometimes is that they say that Abigail felt genuine love for Queen Anne, while Lady Marlborough just wanted to use her for her own cause. And let me just say that that is NOT the point of the story. Abigail tried to use Queen Anne to rise to power, and the final shot of her face dissolving into a pack of rabbits perfectly summarizes the point of her character without any dialogue: she came all the way to power, but at what cost? What has she truly earned? She has lost all her humanity and is simply just another child of Queen Anne. Lady Marlborough truly cares for the Queen, even if she is manipulating her to accomplish what she wants politically. When she says "love has limits", it is clear that she loves the Queen, but loves her country more. Love is brutal, consequential, honest, but everyone needs it in their lives. Queen Anne accepted flattery from Abigail but turned down the one true relationship she had in her life, and she will live the rest of her life without love.
DIRECTION AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL
One thing I noticed about this film is that all the men are portrayed as buffoons in makeup and costumes, which is evident in the, what I'll call "naked tomato James Cordan" scene, where they take pleasure in humiliating someone by throwing oranges at him. But the women, on the other hand, are portrayed as actual people with actual human emotions and conflicts. It isn't trying to say "men are bad and women are good", it is simply just trying to make you understand the women more in this situation. And Yorgos really masters his type of comedy in this film too. The goose chase is a great example. Yorgos chooses to slow down the footage to perfectly encapsulate the intensity of this situation, but also the absurdity of it as well. The sharp editing also really contributes to the comedy but also elevates the dramatic beats by a lot. As it is clear by now, this film is a movie I will never forget and will take years and years to fully dissect it.
If you’ve read all of this, first of all, well done, but also, I implore you to just watch this movie already. It’s a film that’s so not mainstream, so beyond anything else you’ll find in theaters nowadays that it just blows my mind that something like this was actually made. This is what film should be all about. Making movies with complexity and passion, that’s not afraid to show and suggest things. This is a movie that will occupy my thoughts for a VERY LONG TIME, and I’m excited to check it out again.