Movie night last night again and I went to see “The Favourite” first, and then a movie I haven’t even heard of before called “Welcome to Marwen”.
Filmed in England at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire and Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames, between March and May 2017, The Favourite tackles the rise to power of a former lady, Abigail, in the court of Queen Anne in early 18th century. After the initial viewing, I didn’t know how to rate this movie. I liked it but at the same time, it’s been times when I thought it was pretentious and looked more like a student movie rather than a historical drama. I rated it a 4/10 but this morning, I raised to a 6/10 as I couldn’t get it out of my mind and that’s a good thing.
The acting is awesome – strong performances from all three leads: Olivia Colman (who gained 16kg in order to play gout-ridden and bored monarch Queen Anne), Rachel Weisz’s (Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, ancestor of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana) and last but not least, big-eyed Emma Stone as Abigail who undergoes the biggest character arc of all three.
What I really, really liked were the decor, the costumes and the two palaces where they filmed. Many-a-time I caught myself looking very attentively at the rich tapestries in the background, the amazing mother-of-pearl cabinets and the Louis XV vases made in France they used as a backdrop. The queen’s rooms and jewels were equally impressive. I want a four-poster bed for myself now!
I also liked the way the camera-man followed the expression on their faces, the zoom-in to capture the emotion changes – pieces of art where no words were actually needed. On the down-side, I noticed some ear-piercings on both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz which were the only things that weren’t historically accurate.
Now let me tell you what I didn’t like:
- The soundtrack. Oh, if I ever catch the guy who introduced that nonsensical chord plucking that destroyed half the scenes or the cringy violin-playing, I’ll shove the whole instrument down their throats. This was nearly as bad as The killing of the sacred deer.
- the editing. Sometimes mid-speech, the scene would change and the lens they filmed would change too. From a flat wide-lens they would switch to a fish-eye lens which is primarily used to capture a wider angle or to take cute picture of dog’s snouts close up. It’s really annoying as it distracts from the main story. You can see it during the shooting range shots and in one of the rooms where they invited the prime minister and the opposition leader
- There’s a nonsensical scene which is never explained where the wig-wearing big bosses are throwing oranges at a fat naked guy in one of the Queen’s parlours.
- There’s a weird dancing scene in the ballroom and I had to laugh at how cringey it was. The guy takes his partner and spins her around and then carries her around the back and then tries some break dance moves.
- I was shocked at the lesbian sex scenes and the kisses between Queen Anne and The Duchess and between Queen Anne and Abigail. There’s a very explicit scene where Abigail is called for to “massage” Queen Anne’s painful leg and ends up giving her highness more pleasure in the nether regions. I was looking at the screen wide eyed thinking what the lovely 70-year-old lady sitting in the chair next to mine was thinking. I understand the concept that sex was used as means to gain favour with the queen and that Abigail flaunted her body knowing full well that the Queen was into women, but I came unprepared for such content.
- There’s a scene where a guy is seen wanking off in the overly full carriage Abigail travels in
- There’s also a scene where during the wedding night, Abigail, instead of having sex with the new husband and enjoying the respectability he brought on, gives him a hand job on screen while the camera is focused at her face talking about how she can further ingratiate herself with the Queen.
- There’s a scene where Abigail steps on a rabbit until it makes it squeal. That was pretty much out of character as she was caring (at least on the surface) towards the queen. What happened afterwards was a reclaim of power from the queen and a weird scene which had rabbits superimposed (I believe that Abigail was masturbating Queen Ann again). Then the movie ended and everybody gasped WTF. Is that it? I could see nods of disapproval around me as the movie failed to give a proper ending. It implied an ending but it did not give one.
I do think it will come in big at the Oscars as it’s already gathering awards like the Cookie Monster eats cookies (Nominated for 5 Golden Globes. Another 76 wins & 205 nominations). It does have a good story – from rags to riches and the moral corruption it entails and the fall from grace for The Duchess. It’s a pretty love story if you squint hard enough at it and it has enough to satisfy the critics.
But still. WTF! Why the hell would you make a well known character Queen Anne (the QUEEN OF ENGLAND!) into a lesbian?
It’s true that Queen Anne was a weak queen, ruled over England just over 12 years (1702-1714) after getting to the throne when she was 37 years old. Anne never produced a healthy heir: in her teens she married Prince George of Denmark but her pregnancies almost all ended in miscarriage, although one son survived to the age of 11. It’s also true that she had a long lasting friendship with Sarah Churchill where Anne looked up at Sarah and even worshipped her.
Sarah was glamorous and beautiful and that dynamic persisted.
“They were very close but I think Sarah was always the dominant person, even when Anne was queen.”
I loved the acting, but this movie was disjointed, pointless, and extremely weird. 6/10.
Welcome to Marwen
This is the second weird movie of the night and I was intrigued. I had no idea what to expect but in the end I kinda liked it. It’s not a solid 10 but it’s a very odd 6/10.
The movie was an odd experiment, half filmed in real-world, half in an animation style with dolls as the main characters. The hero of the story is going through hell – he’s been beaten to an inch of his life, lost his motor skills, his drawing skills, is suffering from intense pains and hallucinations. But he copes. And the way he copes is by living his ideal life through his dolls, each modelled after a person he has met in his life and him – as a war hero who can never get too close to anyone.
The story is sweet and it’s painful to watch at times. The animated sequences with dolls are amazing – there’s so much imagination put behind them and the face rendering is pretty realistic.
The way he sublimes his fear of the attackers into a fear of Nazi’s is pretty hard-core and the way he fights the Nazis as dolls is showing how hard he’s trying to fight the fears he has of his attackers in real-life. He’s suffering from PTSD which can be triggered by anything related to the incident which so dramatically altered his life.
And when a new neighbour moves next door, he sees an escape from his previously lonely life and thinks that there might be a happy end to his story. He develops this amazing romance between his two dolls and takes them on adventures together. He even buys a tea house diorama for his newest doll, Nicol (without an e) and proceeds to woo her in real life by telling her about how his doll wooed her doll in fantasy life.
At points I would have expected the woman to tell around and tell him to stop being a creep but I don’t think she had it in her. Instead she very gently tells him that real life and imagination life are two different things and that in real life they are very good friends and there’s no love involved.
All in all, the movie is about facing your demons, fighting on those damned Nazis that won’t die and wearing the shoes that you deserve. Because it’s based on a true story, I’m glad I saw it. If it were fictional, I’d have different expectations for the plot and character development. We’re left wondering about certain characters and their backgrounds. But, isn’t that the way life is?
PS: This scene made me laugh: Synchronised doll walking (strutting) with itsy-tiny heel sounds hitting the floor.
PS2: The main character loved to wear women’s shoes and had an impressive collection of over 200 pairs. He liked the heels and the way they made him feel closer to a woman’s essence. Hey. everybody’s got a thing, why not do it!