I was expecting farce, but I wasn’t expecting gratuitous sex and violence. The farce would have been fine, but it was despoiled by the constant intrusions of sex and violence, neither of which was portrayed with any real human reactions, like love or compassion.
“The Favourite” was meant to be a farce about the British monarchy, in a turbulent period, around 1700. It shows the pettiness, the hypocrisy, the double-dealing, the ineptitude of the monarchy. These are all appropriate themes for farce.
Sex and violence, however, are many things but are never funny. They cannot be made farce of. When I say sex, I don’t mean love, romance, or even infidelity. I mean the sex acts themselves that most people prefer to keep private. Violence? You know what I mean.
Crudities, obscenities, grotesqueries, these can be necessary elements if they’re related to the characters or the story. In that case, they deserve to be treated seriously. “The Favourite” gave us crudity and grotesquery in almost every scene, but for no apparent cinematic reason other than trying to make us laugh at things that are inherently unfunny. The producers have, I suppose, succeeded in creating a sensation and padding their box office receipts, though.
Oh, the picture will win lots of awards, despite being (in my opinion) mostly trash. But go see something better, infinitely better: go see “The Green Book”. That remarkable film had disturbing violence and even some sexual themes, but there wasn’t a single word or image that didn’t belong there and there was nothing to diminish the film’s impact, its mission. When the final credits came on I wanted to stay until the very last line. And savor.
I can’t say that about “The Favorite”: I wished I had walked out after the first thirty minutes.