Deadpan with Amusement: THE FAVOURITE

Once upon a time there was young girl who was down on her luck. She fell out of her carriage and into the mud on the way to a job interview. Not the most flattering first impression to make on one’s potential employer but alas after an astute conversation, she was hired as a maid. And then one day she decided to do her due diligence and strive for something bigger. She wanted to change her stars, be something more, because what’s more alluring than having no wealth, prestige, and fame? Power.

THE FAVOURITE has a fortitude built like no other, with a bona fide crassness purged in dignified niceties. It’s no wonder the director of THE LOBSTER and KILLING OF A SACRED DEER crafted such an intrinsic tale of fleeting power and a seductive nature that captures the essence of climbing the hierarchy in English society at the start of the 18th Century. It’s a riot and caddy with venomous punches among the cadence of English ladies. It’s hilarious, dark, erotic, and savagely enticing for someone who dreams of getting ahead in life and does so by tarnishing established reputations and extorting secrets. I can’t help but feel this film challenges the viewer to see something more. Which leads me to question; what has changed in society lately? Doesn’t this happen everyday? It’s the ceremonious passing of the torch filtered through generations intoxicated with class, wealth, and power. It’s like DANGEROUS LIAISONS meets BARRY LYNDON, carrying the verbose sentiment of QUILLS in very subtle somewhat demeaning ways and very enchanting sequences lit with candlelight. Oh la la. And in the same vein as QUILLS it took creative liberty and the immersive mind of actors to bring such vividness to these characters which is 95% of the fun. Otherwise, this film would just be a pretty period piece where the audience can “oh” and “ah” at the set and costume design.

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ paints this canvas with his instincts and diligently with a dominating ensemble of women lead by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. It’s backstabbing eroticism at it’s finest and what’s even more enticing is this story is somewhat true with some obvious added creative flair. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) was a real person who momentarily ran things while England was at war with France during the 1700s, who was very much captivated by her confidante and lover, Sarah Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz). But once, Abby (Emma Stone) enters the playing field, she inevitably and tenaciously holds the metaphoric ball of power in her court. Betrothed to reluctantly be married in order to secure a seat as a lady in the queen’s court. She goes to great lengths to reserve her power in very convoluted ways so much it makes sense why Lanthimos’ enforced that notion with the brilliance of using a fisheye lens to disorient a world so renowned for it’s prim and proper pretenses of societal obedience. Looks can always be deceiving.

At times it really does feel like you’re watching an elaborate chess match with quick wit and sassy commentary, but perhaps it’s really women being women illustrating the need to be seen, heard, and challenged. For instance, when Sarah comments on Queen Anne’s makeup and says she looks like a badger. It immediately opens the gate in terms of how bluntness becomes the thread of how this particular breed of women operate. It’s what these three characters share in their own unique ways throughout the story and it’s empowering and enriching to see this play out on the screen.

As these intriguing triangular, intersecting relationships develop it almost becomes impossible to root for a single character because everyone’s motive is diverse with complexity. Ephemerally becoming its own kind of Shakespearean entity. And yet, Olivia Coleman steals the show and rightly deservingly won an Oscar for such a spellbinding performance. Her range of emotions go from 0 to 100 in a nanosecond carefully embodying the persona of a clueless queen whose authority shadows the story like the slow, yet delicate anthesis of an English primrose. As visually illustrated in the final scene of the film, we have an incredible superimposed image of Abigail and Anne’s faces layered in with the rabbits, which reveal exactly what Abigail is in the hierarchy of power. She is a helpless pet within the queen’s court, which is ironic because initially Abigail’s interest in the queen’s rabbits is what sparked her position and completely altered it.

THE FAVOURITE has the most exceptionally pleasing, subtle message I’ve seen on the big screen since Orson Welles’ CITIZEN KANE. Yeah, that’s an enormous compliment but there’s truth in it. In essence this Lanthimos’ rosebud or perhaps even Andrzej Wajda’s DANTON which I highly recommend for any cinephile out there because it’s also a period piece about corruption and power during the French revolution. All hail! Stories infused with strong themes such as power and revenge always get a good movie crowd to the theaters and I’m always drawn to them because my inquisitive nature lives in a world where power if fought over every single day. I feel like it’s a wheel house for anybody to fantasize about because it connects us cunningly to a fictional world when it parallels as an everyday occurrence in for example a capitalist society just simply masked in virtue of multiplicity. How prevalently charming. Yet, certainly stands among great films when imagination is at play. It’s in great company with such films as Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO. Given the context of sexual identity, the story also had a playful tone and went far and wide with costume and set design and of course the glue who held it all together; Tilda Swinton.

My mind kind of went on a spirally, spastic tangent with the comparison of films, but it’s simply a good feeling when you watch something witty and brazen. I love that this film challenges you to see beyond the surface and deeper into a scathing message about the complacency of power. It ignites a fire of thoughts and introspection of the here and now at least that’s how I viewed it. The nature of people always appears to lean in the direction of control which gives the illusion of complete domination. I get this film may not be for everyone, but looking at it through the lens of art and parody it shines oh so bright.

So Stoic: THE LOBSTER

In all honesty Yorgos Lanthimos’s THE LOBSTER (2015) put a reserved smile on my face and I mean that in the best extraordinary way possible partly because I do have a morbid sense of humor. Nonetheless this film tickled my mind in strange ways, mostly because I put myself in David’s (Colin Farrell) shoes and if I equate my dating history into this bizarre story, I’d probably perish to being a lobster. Or in my case, the animal of my choosing would be a rhinoceros because they are majestic “almost” unicorn-like creatures. Rare by today’s standards. However, this absurd dystopian society values coupled people more than singles which is hysterically messed up and well kind of faintly correlates to this thin veneer of our culture today.

The atmosphere of this film is sublime in all of its deadpan comedy along with its obscurities measuring in a monotone voice over by Rachel Weisz. Calling it “weird” doesn’t even do it justice. The narrative points fun at the nature of coupling people together because those are the rules of this specific world. The minute you become single or are “dumped” you’re escorted to a hotel for single people and have to find a compatible partner/relationship within 45 days or you get transformed into an animal of your choosing and are later set free into the woods. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

It shines a light on the intricacies of finding love even in it’s shallow and hollow splendor such as today’s one-stop-romance in dating apps. The first half of the film sets up the premise of the world which takes place in a hotel. This leaves a sweet spot in my heart because I have a background working in the hospitality industry and seeing the scene where they escort the recently sedated loners back to their rooms via bell hop cart had me laughing hysterically. Hotel humor. As we enter the second half of the film, David flees the hotel to the woods where the recently transformed animal-people run about sporadically and also where a society of renegade loners reside. The leader of the loners is played by Lea Seydiux who’s actually quite terrifying in her performance as she’s adamant in disallowing relationships of any kind. You can do whatever you like as a single person but flirting and a relationship of any kind is prohibited. Consequently, David proceeds to meet a shortsighted woman (Rachel Weisz) and the two appear to be a match but must conceal their romance in order to survive the loner society. There’s seriously no winning in this world.

What left me intrigued was the pairing of people based on their specific flaws such as the limping man, nosebleed girl, lisp man, cold hearted woman, and the list goes on of the method of dysfunctional matchmaking but also the theme of being transformed into an animal. I feel like there’s a major analogy here. Noah’s Ark and the pairing of animals? It’s an enormous, outlandish stretch but the thought did cross my mind at some point with no approach in pinpointing the significance.

THE LOBSTER is bleak but even in its bleakness underlines droplets of humor that drives the story forward mocking how absurd it is to play by the rules in order to fit within a society. Gross. Sound vaguely familiar? It’s absurd and even on the spectrum of absurdity as a society we haven’t hit this kind of low. YET. Or have we? Given the context of prescribing to our own filtered bubbles. I’ll forego that tangent for another time. But, alas this is only entertainment.

Consequently, there’s a thematic thread at play here, hinting at survival all of which kind of teeters in how a society discards people. Remember SOYLENT GREEN or Shirley Jackson’s short story THE LOTTERY? There’s a funny pattern of what happens to people. We either turn you into food, stone you to death or you transform into an animal. Pick your poison.

This film entails an ingenuity of stoic performances, exquisite Irish landscapes, with a heart of unsettling darkness extracting and blinding us to the horror of existentialism all accompanied by a steady pulse of a dramatic violin playing what seems like every five minutes. What’s not to love about this formalistic delight of a film with its devious mise-en-scene and glorious opened ended ending all of which feels like a purgatory of deplorable souls. I favor this film and if you have a dark sense of humor you will too.

So Stoic: THE LOBSTER

 

TheLobster
In all honesty Yorgos Lanthimos’s THE LOBSTER (2015) put a reserved smile on my face and I mean that in the best extraordinary way possible partly because I do have a morbid sense of humor. Nonetheless this film tickled my mind in strange ways, mostly because I put myself in David’s (Colin Farrell) shoes and if I equate my dating history into this bizarre story, I’d probably perish to being a lobster. Or in my case, the animal of my choosing would be a rhinoceros because they are majestic “almost” unicorn-like creatures. Rare by today’s standards. However, this absurd dystopian society values coupled people more than singles which is hysterically messed up and well kind of faintly correlates to this thin veneer of our culture today.
The atmosphere of this film is sublime in all of its deadpan comedy along with its obscurities measuring in a monotone voice over by Rachel Weisz. Calling it “weird” doesn’t even do it justice. The narrative points fun at the nature of coupling people together because those are the rules of this specific world. The minute you become single or are “dumped” you’re escorted to a hotel for single people and have to find a compatible partner/relationship within 45 days or you get transformed into an animal of your choosing and are later set free into the woods. That’s pretty much the gist of it.
It shines a light on the intricacies of finding love even in it’s shallow and hollow splendor such as today’s one-stop-romance in dating apps. The first half of the film sets up the premise of the world which takes place in a hotel. This leaves a sweet spot in my heart because I have a background working in the hospitality industry and seeing the scene where they escort the recently sedated loners back to their rooms via bell hop cart had me laughing hysterically. Hotel humor. As we enter the second half of the film, David flees the hotel to the woods where the recently transformed animal-people run about sporadically and also where a society of renegade loners reside. The leader of the loners is played by Lea Seydiux who’s actually quite terrifying in her performance as she’s adamant in disallowing relationships of any kind. You can do whatever you like as a single person but flirting and a relationship of any kind is prohibited. Consequently, David proceeds to meet a shortsighted woman (Rachel Weisz) and the two appear to be a match but must conceal their romance in order to survive the loner society. There’s seriously no winning in this world.
What left me intrigued was the pairing of people based on their specific flaws such as the limping man, nosebleed girl, lisp man, cold hearted woman, and the list goes on of the method of dysfunctional matchmaking but also the theme of being transformed into an animal. I feel like there’s a major analogy here. Noah’s Ark and the pairing of animals? It’s an enormous, outlandish stretch but the thought did cross my mind at some point with no approach in pinpointing the significance.
THE LOBSTER is bleak but even in its bleakness underlines droplets of humor that drives the story forward mocking how absurd it is to play by the rules in order to fit within a society. Gross. Sound vaguely familiar? It’s absurd and even on the spectrum of absurdity as a society we haven’t hit this kind of low. YET. Or have we? Given the context of prescribing to our own filtered bubbles. I’ll forego that tangent for another time. But, alas this is only entertainment.
 Consequently, there’s a thematic thread at play here, hinting at survival all of which kind of teeters in how a society discards people. Remember SOYLENT GREEN or Shirley Jackson’s short story THE LOTTERY? There’s a funny pattern of what happens to people. We either turn you into food, stone you to death or you transform into an animal. Pick your poison.
This film entails an ingenuity of stoic performances, exquisite Irish landscapes, with a heart of unsettling darkness extracting and blinding us to the horror of existentialism all accompanied by a steady pulse of a dramatic violin playing what seems like every five minutes. What’s not to love about this formalistic delight of a film with its devious mise-en-scene and glorious opened ended ending all of which feels like a purgatory of deplorable souls. I favor this film and if you have a dark sense of humor you will too.