“The Favourite” is the newest bizarre feature film from writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, the man who made the strangely comedic film “The Lobster” and the disturbing revenge story of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”. Both films are equally weird and have a distinct Lanthimos style to their mood, tones and cinematography. The same can be said about this new love triangle period piece.
In Lanthimos’s “The Favourite” Queen Ann of early eighteenth century England rules along with the help of Lady Sarah, her close friend. The queen soon becomes ill and eventually completely immobile. Due to her illness, she becomes increasingly devastated by her condition to the point where she rolls around in her wheel chair doing very little ruling, while still keeping her bizarre sense of humor and love for bunnies. Once a new servant named Abigail comes to her stead, she charms her, stirring up a mix of jealously and sexual politics.
This is a near perfect film, and one that will likely receive some recognition from the Oscars next winter. From an acting standpoint, the three main roles are superbly well done, with Olivia Colman shining brightest. Colman plays Queen Ann and portrays her unique personality perfectly. We feel for her character as she goes through her illness, and that is all thanks to Colman’s brilliant performance. Sarah is played by Rachel Weisz and Abigail by Emma Stone. Both are incredibly talented actresses, so it’s no wonder they were cast for these roles. But once their characters appear on screen, it is clear from that very moment that these roles were meant for them.
The screenplay here is something to be admired as well. While unlike his previous films, “The Favourite” is not written by Lanthimos, but is still very much his film. The screenplay was impeccably crafted by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. The real reason, other than the performances, for the characters’ chemistry is the well written story. We cant help but care and root for certain characters as the story sucks audiences right in and refuses to let them leave until the story ends.
However, the most impressive aspect of this film is Lanthimos’s unique vision of the story. Lanthimos has a very unusual visual style to his films, which remind many movie fans of the works of the late Stanley Kubrick. He has been a clear influence on all his movies, especially “The Favourite”. This film reminds many of a more humorous and female led version of Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” with its time period, costume design, and camera angles and movements.
It seems beforehand that the subject matter is very serious, but “The Favourite” is very much a comedy. Sure, there are many dramatic and even traumatic moments in the film, but the story and characters does make viewers laugh. It’s more of a dark comedy that acts well as a multi-character study.
There are a lot of reasons to love “The Favourite” but all that is important to know is that it’s one of the most well-constructed movies of the year, with lots of talent both in front of the camera and behind. “The Favourite” is a fantastic work of art that pushes the boundaries of camera movements, direction, acting and character work.
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and language.