‘The Favourite’ has received a warm welcome from the critics, and its recent nomination in 10 Oscar categories seems a natural extension of that critical estimate. I saw it some days ago, and was very much looking forward to a treat at the cinema.
There is not one single character, with the possible exception of the tragic Queen Anne (who in any case remains generally insufferable), who elicits any sympathy; the plot is thin and the characters’ psychology skin-deep; the world of the court is depicted as intolerably claustrophobic (doors or exits are usually invisible until opened, as they are flush with, and of the same colour or wallpaper pattern as, the wall); and that world is thoroughly contaminated by self-seeking, obsession with power, and the ruthless treatment of any rival who gets in the way. In sum, the film is almost totally devoid of humanity (in the many senses of that word).
In some ways the soundtrack music epitomises the whole, as it veers between a lavish, overblown and melodramatic baroque style, on the one hand, and what sounds like a parodic and monotonous version of extreme minimalism on the other.
In tandem, the action of the film presents extreme, sometimes physical interaction between the characters (who, female on female, or male on female, or vice-versa, seem willing to teach Katie Taylor a thing or two); alongside an insistence on the repetitious boredom of existence. The film’s rare achievement, then, is to succeed in being both pretentious (helped by the palatial settings and the self-indulgent cinematography), and banal or tedious.
Finally, while the critics on the site ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ on the whole gave it a good press (93pc approval), I would recommend readers of that site to pay due attention to the summary of one critic (Patrick Nabarro) who makes his disapproval clear: “Surprisingly unmemorable and monotonous, and has essentially been done before, in much better ways, by the likes of … even Blackadder!”
Foxrock, Dublin 18
Beautiful story of mother and daughter gives hope
What a beautiful report by Ryan Nugent about 81-years-young Eileen Macken discovering her birth mother, alive and well, at 103 years (Irish Independent, January 25).
Amidst all the world’s turmoil, her story is a gem to give us all hope. Please follow up on this beautiful human story.
Fine Gael has nothing to be embarrassed about
Hugh Duffy’s letter (‘Fine Gael should be embarrassed by record a centenary after first Dáil’, Letters, January 24) makes some highly charged political points which lack objectivity.
Mr Duffy might find it in his heart (to quote Dev) to acknowledge that Cumann na Gael founded this State in the teeth of a savage civil war, which cost €35bn in today’s money to repair – not a penny of which was borrowed.
It set up institutions of State, the civil service, the Garda, and handed over power democratically to Fianna Fáil, its old enemy, in 1932. Fine Gael established a Republic in 1948, set up the IDA which attracted industry here, and defended the State in the 1970s when sinister forces were at work. It also set up the New Ireland Forum and enacted the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985 – the forerunner of the peace process.
In 2011, when the ‘Troika’ had to come here, Fine Gael again came to the rescue and restored our equilibrium. We now have the highest growth rate in the EU, unemployment well down to single figures, and our reputation at home and abroad is restored. Of course, we still have problems with an ever-growing population which puts pressure on our schools, health system and housing, but the fact that so many want to come or return here says a lot.
Ballina, Co Mayo
Banks’s anti-Irish rant was vile and classless
Azealia Banks provided quite the controversy on her recent trip to these shores. First she called all Irish women “ugly” but didn’t stop there, asking one Irish online critic if he had “a famine to go die in” and branding all Irish people “inbred leprechauns”.
If a white singer spewed the same vile and classless comments in a country that was predominantly black in population, they would have been rightly accused of racism and arrested for incitement to hatred.
Perhaps this should be pointed out to the authorities in this country, or indeed her management team, who should be advised to point it out to Ms Banks.
Malahide Road, Dublin 17
Proof it’s administrators ruining the health service
I write to you in advance of the imminent INMO industrial action in our health care system.
First, let me say that if nurses and doctors had mismanaged patient care with such staggering disregard of the economic cost as the cabal responsible for the mismanagement of the cost over-run on the national children’s hospital project, there would be certain outrage and a witch hunt.
It seems ironic to me that the bankers who bankrupted Ireland have been given a staggering tax-free existence, and politicians have given the banks this at the expense of nurses and midwives and PAYE workers for 10 years.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – a former doctor – should be ashamed of himself for not showing solidarity with his former healthcare colleagues and their legitimate pay claims.
Nurses and midwives are looking not for pay rises per se, but rather pay parity and pay restoration.
The outrageous financial over-run on the building of the National Children’s Hospital demonstrates that the malaise in the Irish healthcare system is administrative and bureaucratic, and not clinical.
It’s time to bring back matrons and give control of running our healthcare system back to the nurses, midwives, doctors and allied health professionals who know what they are doing.
The outcome of this impending industrial action by nurses and midwives will speak volumes about how we, the citizens of this Republic, value those who care for the health of the citizens of this Republic, in the shadow of commemorations of 100 years of the Dáil in this decade of centenaries.
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin
Plain speaking about artificial insemination
Pat O’Brien’s letter about AI meaning artificial intelligence instead of artificial insemination (‘AI takes on a whole new meaning in countryside’, Letters, January 23) reminds me of a farmer who said the original AI was “like a plain speaker – straight up, no bull”.
Clonmel, Co Tipperary
Are we to be content with scraps from Bono’s table?
Can a concept be moral or immoral, or even amoral? Bono seems to think so.
How humans behave may be seen as moral or immoral. Then there are as many types of capitalism as there are types of communism as there are variations of colour.
But those who accumulate major chunks of this Earth’s wealth, whatever ‘ism’ is attached to their greed, covertly if not overtly, take from those who live in dire poverty.
Or are the poor and disadvantaged to survive, if surviving for them is even possible, on the scraps from the rich man’s table?
Glasson, Co Westmeath
Hard Border here really should not be a surprise
Why are we surprised at the probability of a hard Border should Brexit ever happen?
Are there not hard borders between the EU and non-EU countries elsewhere?
Britain is tearing itself apart now, mostly because of lies told before and during the referendum campaign.
If David Cameron had had the wit to issue a government guideline to every household in the UK, spelling out the true pros and cons about Brexit, I doubt they would be in this predicament now.
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn must be the worst ever leaders of their respective parties, both ditherers when true leadership is required.
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