Wednesday, 2 January 2019

More story than history

We like to begin the year with a film, but this year, it just wasn't possible.

Elder daughter took off for Hades in the middle of the afternoon, and we're bound to drift off in an evening screening, so we delayed our film until midday today - well, after the twenty-five minutes of car commercials, public service ads, reminders to turn off our cell-phones dove-tailed into cell-phone service provider ads, and oh yes, several trailers.

Our choice was The Favourite due to the cast, the premise, and the fact that it's likely to figure heavily in the Oscar nominations, if the Golden Globes nominations are anything to go by.

The Golden Globe nominations are, predictably, rather mystifying for this film. For one thing, it's been nominated under the "Best Comedy or Musical" category, even though what humour is in it is very dark. The soundtrack features baroque stuff, of course, with a rather strange ditty from Sir Elton John playing out over the illegible, but highly artistic credits. There's also a dance sequence that is so weird, I wondered if it might be a fantasy brought on by one of Queen Anne's ailments.

This brings us to the second thing: Olivia Coleman has been nominated for a Golden Globe as a lead for her role as Queen Anne of Great Britain (1665-1714; reigned 1702-1714); her costars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are nominated as "supporting roles" - in a film with a title that indicates the story is about them - each is a "favourite": Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, and her less fortunate cousin Abigail Hill (later Baroness Masham). This sort of thing seems to happen a lot with women's film roles, lead roles are interpreted as supporting roles, so they can be fitted into the categories.

At any rate, it's a strange film, but quite a beautiful one. The camera angles are sometimes folded into panoramic shots, or stretched into oval fish-eyes, with the shadows, highlights and shades of Vermeer paintings, lots of dark blues, black-and-whites. You can't find fault with the acting. It's the sort of film that makes me say inwardly, as I gaze on tastefully filmed scenes of royal lesbianism and bunnies (not in the same scenes): Goodness, I wonder what really happened?

Because it's a mistake to equate film-going with a history lesson.

Don't get me wrong; do go see it, and then find out how much is likely to be true. I suggest you start here - a web site entitled History Vs Hollywood, which, currently, provides historical context on about 200 recent movies, most of them made since 2000, although films such as Jaws and Schindler's List are included.

If you're like me, you'll want to check afterwards, not ahead of time, as facts do get in the way of a good story.

No comments: