1.5 out of 5 (poor)
In the three weeks since I watched The Favourite, I have realised that it is a truly awful film. Overdrawn in length, underdeveloped in its story and lacking any distinct creativeness, The Favourite does not feel like a film made by director Yorgos Lanthimos.
Drowning under a bevy of Oscar nominations, The Favourite is certainly living up to its name across cinema’s award lists. However, I was overwhelmingly disappointed by the whole affair. Compared to Lanthimos’ earlier films which both entertain and incite further thought, The Favourite was empty.
Divided into five acts, The Favourite is a hollow shell of spectacle and romp that amounts to nothing. The film fits into the bland period dramas which circulate across British television and are designed for middle-aged viewers to fall asleep to. Fixing its gaze on the typical British obsession with the aristocracy and their debauched behaviour The Favourite recounts the rise of lowly noble girl Abigail (Emma Stone) as she ingratiates herself with Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). At the same time as Abigail power grows, Queen Anne’s depression and her lesbian affair with Lady Sarah Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) is revealed.
The Favourite’s more interesting aspects are its study of Queen Anne and her relationship with Lady Sarah. Possibly scarred by post-natal depression, Queen Anne’s bouts of mania are denoted by the camera’s switch to a fish eye lens as her mind, or the strain of power itself, visually warps her reality. For the supreme ruler of England, Anne melts back into childhood while around Sarah who never truly reveals whether her affair with the queen is for love or for power.
For all its positives, The Favourite is exceptionally boring for the bulk of its run-time. Concluding Abigail’s arc by act three, The Favourite pointlessly continues for another two acts. There is neither consequence nor catharsis in act four or five of The Favourite. Nothing happens in these two extra acts, which were either created for Lanthimos’ vanity or as DVD features which then slipped into the film. I lost all patience with The Favourite’s flat humour and its overwhelming focus on the oddities of Stuart England. Abigail’s rise is foreseeable from the start, and besides the odd joke The Favourite consists of conversations chock full of antiquated language, lavish parties, and noblemen marching across the same corridor to Queen Anne’s apartments.
Emma Stone cements her position through The Favourite as one of Hollywood’s most overrated actresses. Arriving to Hampton Court flustered and muddied, her English accent is a curdling impression of received pronunciation, embodying the narrow worldview many Americans have of England being London, green fields, Mary Poppins and cockneys. I did not stop wincing at Stone’s accent because she improved, but because everything else in the film worsened.
Do not bother with The Favourite.
By Saul Shimmin
For the trailer, see below