“The Favourite” is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and stars Olivia Colman (The Crown, Hot Fuzz), Rachel Weisz (Denial, The Mummy), and Emma Stone (Easy A, The Amazing Spider-Man) in a movie mainly about three women living in 18th century England. Queen Anne currently has the throne. She is close to Lady Sarah, who is taking her place for a certain time being. Meanwhile, a new servant comes in to help. Specifically, a woman by the name of Abigail.
My first ever exposure to “The Favourite” happened back in August when I saw “Eighth Grade.” Naturally, given how “Eighth Grade” leans towards roots of indie filmmaking, the trailers before the movie were mainly indies. I wanted to see this movie mainly because it has been given phenomenal reviews from critics and viewers alike. Plus, it seems to have enough legs for awards season. “The Favourite” has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, actresses Colman, Weisz, and Stone have all been praised for their performances, the director has been nominated for an Oscar for the last movie he did for its screenplay. While “The Favourite” was not my most anticipated film of the year, it certainly had enough to get me intrigued.
A lot of people like this movie, and I’m glad people are all able to agree that something can be artistic, compelling, and interesting.
I’m sorry, but I gotta poop on the party here. “The Favourite” is not that great.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things worth praising. The three main characters are all portrayed very well, the production design is unbelievable, and there are parts of the score that almost make me want to listen to it by itself.
That’s pretty much all I can really sum up in terms of positives that stood out. Because while I couldn’t come to the point where I’d consider this movie unwatchable, I thought that as a story it’s just… BORING.
Granted, it’s a period piece where there is no real action, so a lack of fast pacing is to be expected, but HOLY F*CK, this is a very well reviewed movie. I am surprised, disappointed, and I feel like I can’t get back the couple of hours I wasted watching “The Favourite.”
Wait, did I seriously just say that I wasted a couple of hours? Um, I’m sorry, that’s the actual runtime of the movie, so that would be generous. Look up the runtime, it’s a couple of hours and a minute. This movie dragged on to the point to where it felt like it was three hours! It felt like I was watching “Titanic!” Wait, did I mess myself up again? Why yes I did, the pacing to “Titanic” worked! The pacing to “The Favourite” just made me feel like I was watching a movie that just didn’t know when exactly it wanted to end.
This movie at times reminded me of another movie I saw as a kid, but truthfully have not seen since said point, and that’s “Babe.” This movie almost plays out like a book at times, because they provide “acts” or “chapters,” I’m not sure what the writers would prefer to call them. It kind of reminded me of “Babe” when they would cut to a title card of the new chapter’s name. It worked for “Babe,” probably because of the talking animals, maybe it added to the gimmick. Who knows? Maybe I’m cheating, because “Babe” is actually an hour and a half long. I won’t say how many chapters are in “The Favourite,” but the addition of telling me exactly where we are in the movie just made me feel extremely bored.
Granted, there is a part of me that really does want to like this movie, but I feel like my brain is going crazy and a large part of me is trying to remove this movie from my life. Every year, I imagine there is some average viewer out there looking at the Oscar-bait films and maybe they’ll agree with some picks, even if they don’t necessarily love them. But there is that one film that might be what someone would envision as Best Picture. When I say someone in this situation, I am thinking of snobby critics. There’s a good chance there is a regular Joe out there who won’t give a crap about what it is the snobby critics are thinking about. In fact, the regular Joe might as well be saying that the opinions of the snobby critics happen to be nothing more than pure dogs*it. I am not envisioning “The Favourite” as a masterpiece, so why should I envision it as a Best Picture contender?
I will give some credit for the story for not making me fall asleep, because I was able to not only buy into the chemistry between the main characters, but also manage to somewhat care about them. But again, I felt like I watched their story play out for a bit longer than I would have preferred.
Another thing I’d like to give massive credit towards is the beyond beautiful cinematography. There are many shots that feel massive, and immersed me personally into this film. Also, I would love to point that this was shot on 35mm film as opposed to many other films coming out now which are mainly shot digitally.
Through the beautiful cinematography we get a look at a lot of the gorgeous sets and locations in the movie. All of the set choices felt really authentic, especially considering how “The Favourite” was shot in Britain. There were a couple of indoor scenes that I thought had fantastic lighting, especially in some darker scenes where I could still see our characters. In fact, given all the candlelit scenes, it almost reminded me of what it would be like to see a “Minecraft” movie in live-action.
I would talk about the characters in depth, but the movie’s not good enough to deserve such a thing. I make it a tradition on Scene Before to make thousand word reviews at minimum, and I don’t want to waste my time talking about characters who I’ll probably not remember in months time. I will say, the main actors of the movie did a good job. But this movie is just forgettable in the worst possible way.
Let’s be real here though. If I were to only judge “The Favourite” from a technical perspective, I’d give it a very positive grade. I think stylistically speaking, “The Favourite” triumphs and turns out to be one of the best movies of the year. But it’s bogged down by horrible pacing, forgettable scenes, and just a boring vibe. Maybe it will make for good background noise that will look nice on a screen, kind of like what I said for the live-action “Ghost in the Shell” flick that came out last year, but as a movie, it just does not work.
In the end, maybe I’m overreacting, but I don’t feel like I wasted 2 hours. I feel like I wasted an eternity. “The Favourite” does for English-based period pieces what “The Girl on the Train” does for mysteries. It may have good acting, but the pacing is blasphemous. In fact, to throw my point at the wall and guarantee it to stick, let me just have you know that when I saw “The Favourite,” I saw “Vice” as part of a double feature. “Vice” is also based on a true story and happens to be over 10 minutes longer than “The Favourite.” Not only did I like “Vice,” I didn’t feel like I was tied to a chair watching paint dry. But I gotta give “The Favourite” credit where its due, despite how it is similar to watching paint dry at times, at least the paint color was a good choice. I’m going to give “The Favourite” a 4/10. This could change at any time, and who knows? Maybe by Oscar night, the verdict could go up, perhaps even double. I dunno, my brain could be going through hell right now for all I know. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Aquaman.” I just saw it recently and I have plenty to say about it. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Favourite?” What did you think about it? Or, since it kind of makes sense, what is your favorite movie of 2018? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!