Jan 14, 2019
Today, the podcast will be reviewing another Golden Globe winner, this time for Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, winning Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. But more importantly than that, I am introducing, or perhaps re-introducing, our next reviewer joining the One Movie Punch team, Ryan L. Terry. You can check out his great Takeover Tuesday review last year for “Fried Green Tomatoes” (Episode #275), and also check out his blog at rlterryreelview.com (that’s r-e-e-l). You can also check out another Yorgos Lanthimos film review for “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (Episode #149), although it is by no means a comedy.
Here’s a quick promo, followed by the review.
Welcome aboard, Ryan!
This is Ryan of the RLTerryReelView.com and on Twitter at RLTerry1. Whether it’s diving deep into a film's theme or just kicking back and enjoying a movie for entertainment value alone, I love sharing what I love about the magic of motion pictures. Cecil B. DeMille stated "the greatest art is the art of storytelling”, and I firmly believe that. In the same way I share what I know and love about films with my screenwriting students, I value the time that I get to spend with you, sharing my thoughts on a given movie. Favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock. My favorite genre is horror. “Psycho” (1960) is my favorite horror film, but Freddy Krueger is my favorite horror icon. Beyond horror, I love talking about and analyzing all kinds of movies, and enjoying the opportunity to chat with other fans and critics about the world of motion pictures. Join the conversation with me on Twitter or my blog.
Today’s movie is “The Favourite” (2018), the dramedy directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written for the screen by Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis. I’ll start with the streamlined IMDB summary, and jump right into why I love this movie, and why it’s on my Top 10 Films for 2018 list. In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.
More than a satire on the 18th century British royal court, this film is about the lengths one goes to change one’s life or situation and all the costs associated with that. Screenwriter Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis worked with Yorgos Lanthimos to adapt the true story for the screen. What’s really cool about this particular movie is that it is inspired by actual events. You know, it may not be based entirely on all the facts, but that’s the beauty of it, taking the real information gathered from letter and from history and then wrapping it up in a little fiction to have fun with these characters, but still highlight a monarch from the British royal court, one you may not have given much thought to before, but these characters make for a fascinating story. You will be glued to the screen, I assure you.
This story is a grim reminder that you can change your surroundings, title, clothes, job... but you may still be incredibly selfish, power-hungry, lonely, and unfulfilled on the inside. Perhaps you think you’ve won the game, but you were completely unaware that you’re really playing a another game altogether. So, always consult the rule book before you pick up the racket and join the game. There’s so many different ways of reading this film. There is depth to this film that another auteur film from last year, “Phantom Thread” (2018), in my opinion, did not have. It’s not just pretty look at. “Phantom Thread” was pretty. This film is not just pretty to look at; it’s a gorgeous film! There’s so much more to it. So much depth, and there’s so many layers to this story.
One of the most brilliant aspects to the story is how you feel about Abigail, Queen Anne, and Sarah. Because you will definitely change how you feel these characters as the story unfolds. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard dialogue that is this vicious and beautiful all at the same time. And yet, nothing ever feels forced, or fake, or annoyingly on-the-nose. The subtext of what is being said is rich and intriguing. Not only do these characters do and say some of the very things that we either do or imagine we would do or say, but they execute it with razor sharp precision. You will see and hear everything! No holds barred. Be prepared to gasp, laugh, cringe, and more. Never before has cruelty, power, and desire been so delicious. You will be instantly sucked into just how bizarre and brilliant this film about a twisted love triangle is because of the seductive visuals and razor-sharp wit. Not to mention the sad hand jobs.
The costumes, locations, and set design are incredible. Upon watching this film, I was reminded of another world class period drama where each scene felt like it was an oil painting. I am talking about Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” (1975). Never before have I seen a film come so close to delivering the experience that Kubrick’s masterpiece did. This film is built upon one of the year’s (if not THE) best screenplays, and brought to life by an incredible lead and supporting cast. There is literally nothing about this screenplay, the casting, or any of the other elements that I would change. Every scene of a screenplay should begin as close to the end of the scene as possible and every scene needs to point to the realization at the conclusion. And this screenplay does precisely that. Even the development of the characters can be witnessed through the physical movement and dialogue of the characters. Not that commitment to the guidelines of screenwriting means the screenplay lacks imagination–definitely not. There is plenty of imagination in this story but it delivers every emotional beat, every turning point, every action with a powerful punch. The characters contain multiple layers and each scene reveals something new to add to these multidimensional characters. Sometimes it may be a subtle nuance that we learn about a character or it could be a big reveal that was hinted at earlier in the story. At times, your senses are assaulted with a sequence of actions that are wildly erotic or offensively contemptible. It’s that oscillation between extremes that keeps this drama titillating.
Yorgos couldn’t have asked for a better cast. The ensemble cast that makes up “The Favourite” (2018) is stellar. And there is lots of eye candy to go around. Whether we are talking the royal court, parliament, or even the servants, there are lots of pretty guys and gals whom make up this phenomenal cast. Beyond the look of the cast, the talent is breathtakingly good. Delivering figuratively sucker-punches one moment and conveying something seductive through the use of subtlety the next, the breadth of talent on display in this film is remarkable. Heavy dramedies like this one require chemistry levels near perfection. Because it is a character driven story that is supplemented by actions; therefore, it’s imperative that the actors work well together in order to never allow the audience to slip out of the story. Everything about this film works flawlessly.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
Metacritic:90% (MUST SEE)
One Movie Punch: (9 OF 10)
“The Favourite” is rated R and is available in select cinemas nationwide.