Admittedly, I do get super excited when a filmmaker with such an offbeat taste like Yorgos Lanthimos gets the budget and resources to make a film that looks like The Favourite did. It was exactly what I expected it to be. What did I expect it to be? An absurdly complex narrative set in a fairly accessible and familiar setting with each scene shattering my expectation of how it should have been written and presented.
Expectation is a key element for the film. In and off the story it is trying to tell. I have so many things to say for this film and it is going to be impossible to fit them into this piece.
Right off, this here is a period film that feels like it was written in 2019. It is as progressive as it is relevant, and it never loses its sense of the time and space that it is playing in. I believe that the beauty of a well written screenplay really makes you look back at it in disbelief and say “How did they manage to pull that off.” (& maybe I will have an answer to that when I watch it for the fourth time, five years from now.)
It is a story of the power dynamics between two women (or three) who are playing each other and themselves in a rather dirty game. But is the simplicity of a recipe still a fair factor if the ingredients are so complex?
As absurd as it is intriguing. The symphonies often rise up to a crescendo literally opening up the space for our characters to burst open as they shine. The actors are fantastic, and it is entertaining as hell when they play out and say things that you never expect to hear in a royal palace of british sophistication. It is weird as hell. (Again)
The cinematography uses the rooms, the large corridors and the furniture to make the place familiar in no time. The way the camera moved made me feel like I know the place inside out. A feeling of home disturbed by distorting wide angles and quick zoom ins that come off as a mockery of the genre of films. The classic period film that takes too much pride in taking itself seriously. Early in the film, there was a point where I couldn’t tell if I was actually watching a well written spoof.
Except for a subplot that felt internally confused, the film handles itself with precision and care. I wondered in a couple of moments how something as weirdly knitted as this got so much love from the academy. This was before the film had revealed itself completely. “We were playing very different games.” says a character, and I was caught too. Not realizing how much depth and complexities had been woven in. This film caught me off guard and long after it was over, it kept me up thinking. Expectations, misunderstandings and the tricky loop we are all caught up in. More on that later.
This is way longer than it was supposed to be, and is a mess of structure which does not reflect at all with how the film is. Well, check it out if anything I said has made sense to you or you just want to watch Emma Stone making weirder faces than you ever before. Then if you like it, go watch Dogtooth and The Lobster.