In a recent conversation I had, I was told that women’s relationships are far more complex than those of men. Having seen the new film The Favourite about UK’s Queen Anne in the early 18th century, and her entourage I can believe this. The movie explores principally three female characters and their interactions. All three performances have been nominated for Golden Globes. Two supporting roles for Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, and one for Actress for the excellent Olivia Colman. Colman is the new Queen Elizabeth in The Crown for Season 3, she has also done plenty of TV and some smaller parts (The Lobster and Iron Lady). Here she plays Queen Anne who was as pictured an unpredictable and unstable leader. Her most trusted consort (Weisz) is the wife of a general, but manipulates and directs the sails of the Queen through her physical and emotional connection to her. Weisz enjoys a place of privilege and is the real power behind the Queen. Along comes Weisz’s cousin (Stone) who was disgraced when her husband was caught doing bad things and her station has been relegated to commoner. She has other ambitions for herself as she reconnects with her cousin and sees the position of power that she wields. The rest unfolds beautifully as the drama and the intrigue builds between the two ladies of court and they struggle and battle to keep their positions of power. All the while the Queen relishes all this newfound attention while she physically deteriorates. Colman is excellent in this regard. The film really shows and explores the dangers of having a rogue element at the top of a country directing where things will go. The real power lies unsteadily in the hands of various people with their own agendas. It further shows how corrupt and poor behaviour of the trusted servants can be rewarded as the leader can be swayed on a regular basis. The parallels to today’s political climate are not lost on the audience. This film was really good, and it has been nominated for Best Film as well. It has funny moments, it has disturbing moments and there are three fine performances.
I neglected to post my thoughts on the new movie Widows that is out in the theatres. This movie is getting a lot of buzz and I was anxious to see it. My first comment is that Viola Davis is quickly becoming one of the best actors in Hollywood. Full stop. She is putting together an impressive body of work, but she’s really just so damn good. She shows torment, emotion, strength, intelligence, sensitivity and all effortlessly with authenticity and being real. In Widows, she plays a married woman to Liam Neeson’s character who we see early is part of a crew of thieves. This crew runs into some trouble on their latest job, and as the title suggests, leaves the world with widowed women, each with their own backstory. There is a political aspect to this story with a Chicago District that has an upcoming election. Colin Farrell is the incumbent with a family legacy there (Daddy was the representative before, played by aging Robert Duvall). They are being challenged by a black candidate who is more grass roots and lives and knows the neighborhood. He is effectively played by Brian Tyree Henry, previously unknown to me but he has done plenty of TV and stage work. The story unfolds with the Henry character approaching Davis’ character and saying that her husband was stealing money that was his for his campaign, and she now owes him a large sum of money and has a few days to get it. Davis moves into action, not believing the predicament she has been put into, all the while grieving for her husband. She engages the other widows from the crew to see if they can work together. This female supporting cast with Michelle Rodriguez, notably Elizabeth Debicki add a great deal of depth to the story. Add in some other effective supporting cast members and this ensemble creates real tension with good performances. In essence this is a heist film at the core (as a job needs to be pulled off in order for bad things not to happen) and there are challenges along the way. But the story doesn’t stop there, as through some flashbacks we see more about the relationships involved, and notably the Davis and Neeson marriage. This movie had a very good plot, tension and all things that a heist movie should have. Kudos to Steve McQueen who wrote this (along with Gillian Flynn) and directed this. At nomination time, I expect that a few of the performances (and likely the movie itself) will be recognized and rewarded. Well worth seeing.
On Netflix, there was the film Disobedience with the two Rachels (McAdams and Weisz) set in London with an orthodox Jewish family whose patriarch has just passed away. Weisz is the daughter who is informed about the passing and decides to come back to London from New York City. She an obvious black sheep, estranged from the family returns, which causes endless surprises and raised eyebrows. We later find out that she and the other Rachel have had a history together, which seemingly lead to the forced separation. Ultimately it is a story about a culture set in its ways, and how this pressures and forces those within it to conform and not be their true selves. In many ways this films themes are those from Boy Erased. Instead of trying to re-educate the offensive outlier, the community shuns and banishes the offending party. In a time of divisiveness and labeling those around us, the alternative is inclusiveness and realizing that we are all the same underneath it all. That may sound a little too politically correct, but the stories just highlight the past practices, and we can reflect upon them. I think Boy Erased told this type of story more effectively, but this was still worth a viewing.