The Favourite

The Favourite ★★★★★

An aging, unstable, insecure world leader of questionable health foregoes the duties of the role to instead focus on interpersonal affairs; they start shuffling cabinet members around to reward unwavering loyalty and punish sedition. At once I'm talking both of Queen Anne in Lanthimos's excellent period-piece, The Favourite, but also not-so-subtly checking President Trump's actions in office. Despite screenwriter Deborah Davis's earliest draft of the movie dating back to 1998, it remains a powerful cautionary tale of the personal power-jockeying that happen behind the scenes in a corrupt government. Anne, who has no true penchant for the politics, leaves it to Sarah. But when Sarah starts to act outside the Queen's whim—when she becomes disloyal—, her political aptitude could matter less. The Queen finds another "Yes-Woman," in the politically inexperienced but emotionally intelligent Abigail.

Lanthimos doesn't compromise his vision here, and trust me, it pays off. Techniques or quirks that would be completely misused in anyone else's hands (Fisheye lens? Quick camera whipping? Bizarre triple cross dissolves?) find purpose and intent with him behind the camera. He refuses to bow to convention, a refreshing stylistic approach to the period-piece genre. Put this story in anyone else's hands, and we'd get... um, well...

With a decade of original and striking work under his belt now, we'll be looking back on Lanthimos fondly as a great auteur of our time. Combine his inventive direction with a meticulously paced script, quick and witty dialogue, stellar performances from Stone, Weiss, and Colman (who despite frequently being reduced to a driveling mess as Anne, truly deserves recognition in the convincing portrayal of a fascinating figure), and you've got the tightest feature released this year: Poignant, funny, violent, and above all else, it’s got bunnies.

The Golden Globes have been announced already, and although I know the HFPA runs the world's biggest popularity contest, it's sad to see Lanthimos not considered for Best Director... but Bradley Cooper is. I know why—Cooper is too much of a hunk for the foreign gossip journalists to ignore. No offense, Yorgos.

And finally...... If you know me, you know I have a Love/Hate/Really Hate relationship with theaters. For some goddamned reason, every single time I see a movie in theaters, someone's phone goes off. It's not like there are a million signs and warnings from the moment you walk into the theater to, at the very least, silence your phone (but if you're not a total asshole, you'll turn that shit off). Last night, I decided to be a little proactive; as the Landmark Theaters logo faded out, and the lights dimmed, I broke the silence.
"Turn your phones off! Please. And thank you."
Rightfully some people were uncomfortable with the request, but I heard a couple laughs and one guy echoed with a "Yeah!" which made me feel good!

Then the movie started with the audio description accidentally blaring out of the back of the theater for like two minutes until someone fixed it.

And then an older couple came into the movie late, sat next to me, and in the middle of the movie, the man next to me looked at his phone. I asked him, "Could you turn your phone off?" He glared at me, and put the phone back in his pocket (still on). Later, he took it out again and checked it.... I was a lot less nice this time. "Turn your phone off or get out of the theater."

No response from him this time. But he didn't check his phone for the rest of the movie. I don't like being a jerk about this stuff... but I really shouldn't have to ask. Anyway, I heard one ringtone go off, and one person accidentally activated Siri. Why do I bother?

Wesley liked these reviews