I have never been a big fan of fantasy, and I have never read any of J R Tolkien’s books. Even the Lord of The Ring movies have eluded me. So why was I very interested in seeing ‘Tolkien?’ Because it stars Nicholas Hoult, who is one of my favorite young actors. I know this movie wasn’t getting raves, and I truly wasn’t expecting much. And maybe because my expectations are low, I found myself really enjoying it, and I even shed a tear or two in the end. Maybe because I don’t know much about Tolkien’s work and life that I did, though. This film covers his ‘early’ years, before he wrote his first Hobbitt novel. So I approached this as just a story about a young man trying to find his voice, exploring friendships, and falling in love. Director Dome Karukoski doesn’t focus on one thing – it’s part love story, part biography, part war drama – but that didn’t bother me. Maybe because I was enamored with Hoult, who gives a real credible performance. And he has great chemistry with Lily Collins, who plays Edith Bratt, his love interest. When the story goes focuses on their love affairs, it perks up. I could watch the two of them discuss languages, or Wagner, for instance. And for me, I like that the film gives a glimpse of how his imagination spurred the beginnings of the novel, although I understand why it may not be enough for people who a re fans of his literary work. There are a lot of uneven work nowadays, and this may classify as one, but I think it is a worthwhile watch.
Whatever you think of Yorgos Lanthimos’ films, they certainly are very interesting and they make you pay attention. His latest film, ‘The Favourite’ is certainly both. There is a dangerously deranged quality to the film that is hilarious and makes the actors rise to levels you didn’t think they were capable of. There is some great acting here, starting with Olivilia Coleman who plays a frail queen who mostly leaves her decision making to her trusted Sarah (Rachel Weisz) In comes Abigail (Emma Stone) and we see a lose of a balance in the power structure. And then some. And then mayhem ensues. At first, I thought it was kind of bad that there is no one to root for, until you realize that these people exist in a Lanthimos world that they are all crazed evil – you just go along for the ride and check morality at the door. There is delicious fun when Sarah spars with Robert Harley, played by Nicholas Hoult (he has never been better here) and there is delicious fun when Abigail tries to weasle her way in the Queen’s circle. There’s a lot going on but it it never feels crowded, and when you get to he cynical finale, you even root for everyone as you root for no one. The title is prophetic – ‘The Favourite’ will end up as one of my favorite films of the year.
There were a couple of things that excited me about this movie. First of all, it is directed by Drake Doremus, whose last movie, ‘Like Crazy,’ I loved. (He even dedicates this movie ‘For Anton,’ presumably because he starred in that movie) Second, this stars Nicholas Hoult, who is one of my favorite young actors working today. And, this film has been dubbed as the ‘Tindr movie,’ because the whole premise is about a couple who meets on a similar dating app (It’s called Winx in the film) and how that affects and changes dating and relationships in this day and age.
The answer is that, of course, it is a different world out there and at the same time the core values of what we want from a relationship really define how successful it will be. I thought this was a very interesting film, and what it has to say really depends on how you view relationships. It is anchored by realistic performances by Hoult and Laia Costa. But it goes on a bit too long, and at times the film feels like friends of yours who can never decide about their relationships, and the constant are-they-on or are-they-off tugs feel tiresome after a while. But, like it or not, this film shows how the world is today, and explores how we find love and how we keep them.