February 4, 2019

The Favourite (2018)

Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone

This movie is bananas. I honestly don't know how to better summarize it.

First of all, it's historical fiction. But somehow the only fictional parts are the rabbits (which actually serve as a shortcut for key plot points, so still necessary), and an unconfirmed romance. So while making a movie about a bisexual love triangle about people who may not have actually been bisexual might seem like a completely fictitious movie, somehow it's not? It's hard to even explain.

What's completely bonkers about this movie is that where in my last review I complimented BlacKkKlansman for following the exact rules of tight storytelling, this movie works for the exact opposite reason. This movie follows almost no normal conventions, with tiny, choppy scenes, weird section breaks, humor in completely odd places, and you know, all-female sex scenes. And yet...

The reason this movie works is the acting. Generally, I roll my eyes when all the major characters from a movie are nominated for Oscars because come on, they can't all be that good. (cough, cough, American Hustle, Three Billboards, The Master, Doubt) But here? I honestly had to give it some real thought as to who did the best job. (I did eventually decide on Olivia Coleman.) Even Emma Stone, who I loathe for vague and impossible-to-pinpoint reasons, was excellent. And her accent was on point, which is always always always a problem for me when Americans play British. (See: Jena Malone as Lydia Bennett in Pride & Prejudice.) The three women in this movie each play such complex characters, shifting between good and evil, kind and cruel, even sane and crazy--completely seamlessly. You can't decide who you like and who you hate from scene to scene. And the more you think about it, the more complex it becomes. The relationship dynamics, politics, power structure--they're all intertwined, but laced with incredible wit and a constant reminder that women run the fucking show.

I don't know, man. I really don't know. I feel like I'm sitting here, trying to write this review, but all I can do is shake my head and how strange the whole thing was and wonder how on Earth I can write a coherent review of it without spoiling the plot. And maybe all I can say is that I can't. That's it's one of the rare movies you really have to be there to get. So be there. Watch it. And come back and tell me what the hell to think about it.

Final word: 48 hours later I'm still thinking about it.

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