If you don’t know anything about Rebecca Hall before watching this film then you’d be forgiven to think she is American and a ditzy bimbo! She’s neither. She’s a very talented young British actress and this is the 4th movie I have seen her in after Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon and The Prestige. And she is the life of this film, putting in a great acting performance. Lay The Favourite is a 2012 comedy-drama movie directed by Stephen Frears based on Beth Raymer’s memoir of the same title and follows a young, free-spirited woman as she journeys through the legal and illegal world of sports gambling. The movie stars Hall as Beth Raymer with Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon & Vince Vaughan.
Beth Raymer is a wide eyed gal who moves to Las Vegas and find her path to fortune after a stint at private stripping at customers’ homes does not go all that well for her. She says goodbye to her father (brief cameo by Corbin Berson), packs up her few belongings and her dog and moves to a small motel in the Sin city in hopes of becoming a cocktail waitress. With a tip from Holly, a fellow tenant, Beth goes to meet Dink who is a professional sports gambler, who hires her to place bets for him around town, run errands and work the phones and before long realizes she’s a good-luck charm with a genuine gift for numbers.The doe eyed girl finally finds a purpose for her talent – she is really good with numbers – and does well very quickly, adapting to Dink’s lifestyle and work very quickly. Dink seems to like her as she seems to like him and they form a warm relationship which borders on love, much to the anger of Dink’s wife Tulip (an almost unrecognizable Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Dink reluctantly lets her go to please his wife, his sour-puss wife, and gives her some generous amount of money to keep her going until she lands on her feet. In the meantime, the impulsive Beth picks up a nice fellow, journalist Jeremy (Joshua Jackson), in a casino and they start a relationship which would eventually become more serious. However Dink starts to lose big and begs his wife to get Beth back in return for – get this – money for a face lift! So Beth returns, while Jeremy returns back to New York but things go wrong again and Beth is out of a job again. She goes to New York and lives with Jeremy and is soon taken under wing by a friendly rival of Dink’s, the flamboyant Rosie. Dink warns her that sports gambling isn’t legal in NYC but she doesn’t listen and is induced by Rosie to become involved in his illegal bookmaking schemes. This eventually involves her going to Curacao to oversee operations there. Things become scary when a client of hers is investigated by the law and their investigations could cause huge problems for Beth, Jeremy and Rosie.
She reaches out to Dink & a now sympathetic Tulip, who fly to NYC to help her and with some reluctance from Jeremy as well. Beth is able to get the customer to fess up and not sell them out, saving Beth some cash and misery. The movie ends in a frenzy, increasing the pace of the movie nearly triple fold but doesn’t really leave you satisfied as it could have been a lot better. From what I have read, the makers of the movie have stuffed too much from the book into one movie and perhaps that is what affected it. I love the cast, despite some negative comments and the movie is ok. I’ll give it a 7 overall out of 10!