hayden’s review published on Letterboxd:
Maybe my sense of humour is broken. Maybe I’m just not down with the kids. I don’t understand, but I didn’t find either The Favourite or Dogtooth remotely hilarious, at least to the extent that I’ve heard others do. I saw a review of this the other day by someone I follow and they said (please tell me who you are if you happen to read this) that the dialogue in Pulp Fiction, some of the greatest banter I’ve seen in a film in the longest time, has absolutely nothing on that of The Favourite. I seriously, after trying so hard during my viewing this afternoon, have no idea how this could be true. Help, ah! I only laughed like, once.
The Favourite is a wonderfully made movie. It is shot unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The costumes? Insane. The sets? Magical? The performances? Uber magical! The leading trio of Emma Stone, Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz were to die for. Seriously, they were swallowed by their characters and truly became their toxic, power hungry alter egos. I didn’t know Weisz had it in her, I admit, but I knew even from her nomination alone that Coleman would (and should) win Best Female Actor. She was out of this world good. The success of her performance leant on her ability to be terrifyingly erratic or seductively charming at the flip of a coin; sometimes even both at once. Needless to say, she totally killed it. What a beautiful woman, the things she can do are incredible.
Perhaps my favourite element of this whole movie was the extraordinary transformation of Emma Stone’s character. It gave me the most incredible Michael Corleone/Tony Montana vibes and I loved it. I won’t spoil anything, but I think that inference is enough for you to get the idea. She was wonderful and it fills me with great joy to even think about her development throughout The Favourite.
Here is a director brilliantly in-touch with his themes and meta notions. The very futility of the political system, the parallels to modern power play and, perhaps the most obvious, yet most powerful, the link to today’s world leaders and how such exclusive power can, and usually will, lead anyone to permanently altering disaster. Although Stone’s character was awesome, Coleman’s gradual descent into lunacy and authoritarian rule over her subjects was ever so powerful.
Let’s have a look at, say, any political leader today. They enter the job, with the greatest concern for their people, apparently, which is great. However, as they sink further and further into the foothold of power, they lose their way, they lose their sense of public service and all they care for is keeping their position. This is the case in Coleman, Stone and Weisz’s characters wholly. The uniform chaos of the melodic classical music that accompanied The Favourite resonated with this awesomely.
Director Lanthimos has created a piece of political commentary so beautiful, so subtle and so methodical that, if I didn’t feel so let down by the humour, I would probably consider this a masterpiece. Politics is so scuffed, and that’s what I love about it. Whether it’s the 1700s or the 2020s, power play will always exist, the strong will always see themselves as the strongest and such power will always, always destroy you in the end.