Well, I really wanted to love this film. I tried. Boasting Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, a character listed on IMDB.com as “wanking man,” and a trailer laden with dark wit, what more was I asking for?
As it turns out, I needed more than witty performances, beautiful photographic direction by Robbie Ryan, and detailed production design by Fiona Crombie.
I needed a plot that went somewhere. The Favourite forgot it needed a destination. In a film that made a point of calling out act changes with title screens, one might think that the final act might not be shortchanged. One would be mistaken.
I had a sneaking suspicion as time dragged on with fewer and fewer moments landing that the ending might not be earned, which is a pet peeve. Instead, it seemed entirely omitted, with the camera cutting to black before there was any resolution at all. It was utterly unsatisfactory. I don’t need a neatly tied bow at the end of the story, and I even rather like ambiguous or unhappy endings. This, however, seemed to not have a point to the abrupt end and left virtually every character in flux.
Additionally - and this is a very minor point, but it betrayed a lack of care - there were a number of lingering close-ups of Stone that seemed to highlight, rather than hide or camouflage, her very contemporary second ear piercing. Fixes are readily available with a little thought, and the lack of that consideration is bothersome. The fact that I was so distracted by this issue illustrates how little was landing as the plot continued.
Wednesday I spent 117 minutes in Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and left wishing it had been twice as long. Today I spend 2 more minutes in The Favourite and wished I had just stuck with the trailer.