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Review: The Favourite

The Favourite
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PLOT: When a young woman arrives at the doorstep of the Queen, she quickly finds herself moving up the ranks to become a lady-in-waiting. However, as her station improves, deceit and jealousy reign supreme in England’s court.

REVIEW: When it comes to historical or period dramas, there is a tendency for filmmakers to rely on simply gorgeous costumes, picturesque images and getting the proper actor to bring the past to life. And then there is a film like THE FAVOURITE. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (THE LOBSTER) with a script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, this wickedly funny affair manages to be both lovely and cruel at the same time. Far from being a stoic and proper telling, there is a sense of viciousness in this that falls somewhere between ALL ABOUT EVE and DANGEROUS LIASONS. The striking feature also delights with three fantastic performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.

the favourite yorgos lanthimos emma stone olivia colman rachel weisz nicholas hoult drama period piece joblo.comIn early 18th century England, Queen Anne (Colman) leads her country, but her frail health leaves her in need of assistance. The Queen finds comfort and honesty in Lady Sarah (Weisz), a sharp-tongued friend who is unafraid of being brutally honest to her sovereign - even if she thinks her highness look like a badger with terrible make-up at times. However, when a recently impoverished young servant arrives by the name of Abigail, a shift begins to take place. Sarah finds herself succumbing to the girl’s charm as they develop a fondness for each other. The closer Abigail gets to Sarah, Queen Anne also takes a liking to the newcomer. Soon, deceit and a bitter war of social graces takes hold of the court and a country that is already in the midst of a war.

If you’ve seen the previous work from Lanthimos, THE LOBSTER and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, you’ll be prepared for this twisted tale. The humor is pitch black satire, and the actions of these three women are at times downright nasty. While the script certainly offers many laughs, it also leads you on a very dark journey. The madness of Queen Anne manages to do something that is very difficult to achieve, it is a great period piece, a biting satire and a impressively enjoyable experience all at the same time. And frankly, that is even more difficult when you have this many vile characters all looking for their own betterment, damn the cost. One particularly disturbing action taken by a character is close to behavior you’d expect from a horror movie psychopath. Let’s just say you should be careful who you accept a cup of tea from.

the favourite yorgos lanthimos olivia colman emma stone rachel weisz nicholas hoult period piece historical drama joblo.comVisually speaking this is a lush and gorgeous production, with all the eccentricities of Lanthimos earlier work. Instead of something visually akin to say a Merchant Ivory film, you are more likely to find this more in line with say Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON or Ken Russell’s WOMEN IN LOVE. His story is told in a bold and gorgeous way, this includes using fish-eye and wide-angle lenses throughout. The use of slow motion is at times disturbing, and yet weirdly engaging and hypnotic. As are the many metaphors that exist in this provocative feature. It is a wonderful treat to see a period piece that steps out of the usual mode and creates a weird world of politics, hidden sexual desires and a healthy heaping of betrayal and revenge.

And then there are the performances. It is thrilling to see a feature film that offers all three starring roles to women. Both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are perfect as two women who develop a strange friendship rooted in mistrust. And then there is Olivia Colman. The actress is exceptional here as an overly emotional Queen who can turn her favor at the drop of a hat. All three are terrific, but don’t be surprised if it is Ms. Colman who finds herself with an Academy Award in the coming months. However, you cannot take away from the incredible work from each one. As well, Nicholas Hoult is outstandingly foppish as Harley, a man who tries hard to stand up against Sarah and her hold on the Queen.

the favourite yorgos lanthimos olivia colman emma stone rachel weisz nicholas hoult historical drama period piece joblo.comWhen it comes to current historical dramas, this one’s title is certainly apropos for this exquisite work. THE FAVOUITE is a smart, satisfying and devilishly cruel tale that is far more fun than you’d imagine. The performances are delightful, and while Olivia Colman stands out a bit, Stone and Weisz are equally stunning. While the sardonic wit may not appeal to everyone, it is certainly refreshing to see something that doesn’t quite play it safe. In a crowded year of Academy Award hopefuls, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Stone, Weisz and Colman up for awards. And frankly, Yorgos Lanthimos is becoming one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. Delirious, decedent and delightfully deceitful are only a few words you could use to describe this engaging tale.

Source: JoBlo.com

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