The Favourite: An Unusual Costume Drama (English)

the-favourite-rachel-weiszEveryone is talking about it and at the end I also went to see The Favourite, currently nominated for 10 Oscars. Made with a relatively modest budget ($15 million), its director is the good Yorgos Lanthimos (among other things, he directed The Lobster in 2015) and it stars three exceptional actresses: Rachel Weisz (recently seen in Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience), Emma Stone (a lot of time has passed since she appeared in Zombieland ten years ago!), and Olivia Colman. What do I think of The favourite?

It cannot be denied that it’s an absolutely unusual and unique costume movie, but at the same time it doesn’t have the strength of the previous films directed by Lanthimos who, in fact, in this case has not co-written the script as he usually does. But this perception of mine comes from me going to the cinema without knowing anything about the film except for the name of the director: I expected a standard film by Lanthimos (as if something made by Lanthimos could be defined as “standard”), and I was a little disappointed by the absence of his touch. But let’s leave this aside and talk about the film!

The favourite focuses on a short period of the reign of Queen Anne of England at the beginning of the XVII century. The country is at war with the Austrians and at court there are important political clashes between the whigs and the tories, at least when they’re not playing with racing ducks and riding their horses in the woods. The Queen herself (Olivia Colman) seems more interested in her 17 rabbits (one for each child she lost due to abortions and premature deaths) and her own health (a terrible gout plagued her life for years) than in politics. And in fact the political affairs of the reign are in the hands of Lady Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), a powerful lady who takes all the most important decisions, including sending her husband Mark Gatiss (seen in the tragicomic series Sherlock) to the war front. But all of a sudden her cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) comes to the palace and the balance of power will change…

Everything in this movie is made extremely well. Lanthimos shoots in a very imaginative way (with all those wide-angles and fish eye lenses it seems like we’re watching a Terry Gilliam film!), probably to emphasize how absurd the life of the palace was. According to Lanthimos’ vision, the government of the country was in the hands of a bunch of idiots worried about their wigs more than about the people whose fates they manipulated with taxes and wars! All the actors and actresses are amazing, especially the three protagonists who manage to be very credible in the role of these XVIII-century nobles, sometimes lost in ironic and paradoxical situations which are deliberately out of place. Think, for example, about the modern and totally anachronistic dance seriously performed by everyone: it’s impossible not to burst out laughing! The historical reconstruction is fun and without any pretension to be totally faithful to reality. Yet, the plot intelligently manages to fit in realistically between the lines of official history, something not easy at all when touching themes such as the possible homosexuality of the Queen and the power struggles on which today we can only speculate!

And in the end, while respecting the canons imposed by a costume film, Lanthimos manages to talk about modern-day issues such as the madness related to power and the stupidity of those who should be enlightened leaders and who are nothing but children who constantly argue with each other. In short, The favourite certainly deserves to be seen and is intelligent enough to offer many ideas and discussion possibilities. That said, if according to the Academy this is the best film released in 2018, at least according to the criterion of the number of Oscar nominations, I think that something’s terribly wrong with the Academy! For example, my favorite movie of 2018 has not even been nominated once, but hey, that’s just me… Ciao!

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