I’ve been watching Little Favour time and again in order to ascertain why I find it clever but cold.
The concept is appealing – there is no innocence in war. The screenplay is masterful (powerful minimalistic narrative), actors are excellent, light is great in Shoreditch warehouses of the soul. What looks like a somewhat conventional rendering only leads the way to a genuinely unexpected plot twist.
Yes, you managed to surprise me. Golly.
There are a couple of uncomfortable moments, the creepy pep talk by James and the blatant Russian accent, but they turn out to be clues to the withering ending.
Have you noticed how hard I’m trying not to spoil it for you? You should thank me.
Anyway, what’s wrong with this remarkably good piece of cinematography? It took me a week to recognize it. Well it’s the music. The original music by Will Hensel and Patrick Victor Monroe, with solo piano James Rhodes. Not the music itself of course (I like James Rhodes all right). The problem is that the music is not a comment to Wallace’s experience. On the contrary, that minimalistic sense of repetition, inevitability, detachment, is more a comment to James’ experience, or possibly Lilah’s. So what we have is a quietly emotional main character, trying hard to make sense of what’s happening to him, we even get to hear echoed voices in his head, but the music is not about him, it’s about the other characters, so what we get is a dissonance, which is really really clever, but ultimately cold.
This is Wallace’s problem, he can’t get a music for himself. He’s surrounded by repetition, inevitability, detachment. He can get some money apparently, but he can’t get the girl, plus he’s not comfortable with civilian life so he lives in a Shoreditch warehouse of the soul, surrounded by disturbing pieces of art reminding him that there is no innocence in war. Also the pizza is cold. This is the most intense moment, when Wallace is home with Lilah and he tries to make it cosy and normal, but he just has some cold pizza.
Cumberbatch breaks your heart delivering that line.
Even worse, the pizza is cold and now it’s on the floor. Bad sign.
Pizzas always get a harsh treatment in films. Sometimes they’re not even there, it’s just the box. They’re Shroedinger’s pizzas.
Let’s tale a moment to appreciate the story of Carmela Vitale the inventor of the pizza thingy, as sung by John Finnemore.
Back to Little Favour, yes, there is no innocence in war. It’s so true. And the is no innocence in humanity, as we are constantly at war. Even in everyday life, we constantly talk by using war metaphors, we live in a huge war allegory, I think George Lakoff is spot-on. Wallace won’t be able to find innocence, anywhere.
But the Cumberbitches will find him and console him.
Now a moment to praise the costumes. Cumberbatch is wearing a good leather jacket, suitable boots and tank top, and a terrific pair of jeans. The wardrobe is credited as Camden-based LA1. I picture myself Adam Ackland telling Cumberbatch that the crowdfunding was providing three times the needed amount of money in less than three days, saying Ben, we need to go shopping for a proper pair of jeans to thank the Cumberbitches.