The Movie Waffler New Release Review - GOOD FAVOUR | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - GOOD FAVOUR

good favour review
A mysterious teenager is taken in by a secluded Christian commune.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Rebecca Daly

Starring: Vincent Romeo, Lars Brygmann, Clara Rugaard, Alexandre Willaume, Victoria Mayer

good favour poster

Filmmakers seem obsessed with cults right now. Earlier this year Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead gave us their commune-set sci-fi tale The Endless, while a few weeks ago no less than three movies featuring cults arrived in the shape of Bad Times at the El Royale, Mandy and the Netflix original Apostle. With two movies based around the exploits of Charles Manson arriving next year, including an all-star Tarantino production, the trend seems set to continue.

Rebecca Daly's Good Favour has more interest in the workaday nature of its sect than the aforementioned movies, and the cult featured here is far less sinister than most cinematic portrayals of communes. Living on the edge of a forest somewhere in German speaking Europe, this Christian commune is somewhat like the Amish, yet while they live off the land and shun electricity and modern medicine, they do allow themselves the luxury of automobiles, which they use to drive into town to sell the honey they process.

good favour review

We find the commune in a sorry state. A young child has vanished after wandering into the woods, calves are being stillborn and an elderly woman is suffering on what seems set set to be her death bed as she is denied access to a nearby hospital.

Fortunes begin to change with the arrival of Tom (Vincent Roméo), a mysterious teenage boy who emerges from the woods one morning with no memory of how he got there. The leader of the commune, Mikkel (Lars Brygmann), accepts Tom into his flock, allowing him to become a part of the commune so long as he helps out.

From the off, the quiet-spoken Tom appears to cast a spell over his hosts. The children follow him around in Pied Piper fashion while fellow teenager Shosanna (Clara Rugaard) appears to develop romantic feelings for him which she keeps suppressed. One day while playing in the river, Shosanna drowns, coming back to life at Tom's touch. Mikkel begins to think Tom may be the Messiah his people have been waiting for.

good favour review

Daly is at once both one of the most intriguing and frustrating filmmakers to emerge this decade. Like her previous films, The Other Side of Sleep and Mammal, Good Favour is immaculately crafted and boasts the sort of brooding atmosphere many directors take decades to master, yet it also feels a little hollow.

Daly puts together some memorable scenes, displaying a remarkable sense of editing in moments like the aforementioned drowning incident and an unsettling set-piece in which Mikkel's choir practice is interrupted by Tom loudly chopping wood outside the chapel. Ultimately, we're left with the sense that none of this amounts to much by the end, and that the film serves chiefly as an exercise in mood building.

good favour review

It's also a tad difficult to swallow some of the actions displayed by characters here. Tom bears the marks of the stigmata on his wrists and a suspicious wound on his abdomen, yet it takes a laughably long time for this bunch of devout Christians to put two and two together. The subplot of the missing child requires a large degree of suspension of disbelief if you're to come to terms with the idea that the local authorities, who we learn are aware of the disappearance, wouldn't conduct a thorough investigation.

All of Good Favour's issues emanate from its superficial script, but it's one of the most skillfully directed movies of the year, offering enough in the way of escalating atmosphere to keep more visually oriented viewers engaged. Three movies in, Daly has proved herself adept in manipulating the tools of cinema to produce moody tone poems, but next time out a bit more substance would be appreciated.

Good Favour is in Irish cinemas November 9th. A UK release has yet to be announced.

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