“The Favourite” was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and stars Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman. The film is about the battle between Lady Sarah, who is very close to Queen Anne, and a new servant named Abigail, who attempts to climb up the ladder through her new friendship with the Queen, all of which occurs in the early 18th century.
This has been towards the top of my most anticipated list ever since the trailer came out, and for good reason. Lanthimos has blown my mind with his past two films, and this time, he has assembled his most impressive cast to date. That, along with a trailer full of laughs and plenty of absurdity to go around, had me incredibly excited to see just where the Greek filmmaker could go from here.
You simply won’t see a trio of performances anywhere in 2018 that will match up to the display Stone, Weisz and Colman all put on in this movie, not even close. It’s impossible to pick a favorite from the bunch when each and every one of them knocks their role out of the park, all combining to make a brilliant ensemble with excellent timing, wit and sense of comedy.
Colman is being called the lead in awards contention, which I don’t know is necessarily fair considering all three could be supporting. But since she is, I will say she is outstanding in the lead as Queen Anne. Bringing the most comedy of the three, Colman is a scene stealer at all times, making her presence known and showing the true problems and persona that Queen Anne displays.
Stone and Weisz are perfect for the role of butting heads for Queen Anne’s attention, both bringing a certain something I’m not sure any other duo of actresses could. Weisz is excellent as the straightforward, stern Lady Sarah, matching Stone’s charisma and wittiness with a blunt, no-holding-back approach meant to come off as quite unlikable. Stone on the other hand is great at making the audience root for her even after some not-so-good events. She is perfectly cast, and she gives a terrific performance to boot.
Though Lanthimos parted with his typical partner, Efthymis Filippou, on the script, the one crafted by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara is absolutely superb. The wittiness of every word said perfectly mixes with the bizarre style of direction Lanthimos is known for, and it feels like each moment with the character helps to learn something about them, but in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s beating the audience over the head. This movie is non-stop excitement and intrigue, and the writing has a lot to do with it.
It’s hard to say if “The Favourite” is more of a comedy or a drama, mainly because it is one of the best this year if it was in either genre. But as a comedy, it is absolutely hysterical when it needs to be. Lanthimos is the king of awkward comedy, and he does it again here with off-the-wall comments and unexpected actions from various characters, always working to get a reaction out of me.
When all of those pieces aren’t blowing my mind on their own, the work on the cinematography by Robbie Ryan does a great job at filling the gap. There are some stunning shots that I believe are done with a fisheye lens that somehow fit perfectly within the film. Ryan’s style of camerawork, again, fits perfectly with the mood Lanthimos sets, all complimented by the beautiful classic composition used throughout the film.
This is a Lanthimos film through and through, and there’s nobody that could have done this movie is a better way. He has been filling out a niche for himself in this quirky directorial choice with a bizarre premise, but “The Favourite” brings it back to more realism, and it actually works in a big way. There is something more incredible about the ability Lanthimos holds to make something based on a true story into this bizarre trip into a battle for the love of the Queen, and he does so in a way only he could.
Because Lanthimos is at the helm, there is not a dull moment to be found anywhere in the film’s 119-minute runtime. Whether it’s just a simple conversation between the characters, a shot of someone walking down a hallway or maybe even a meeting with Parliament, everything is full of intrigue and tension or comedy or anything in between. This is a film full of amazing little moments scattered everywhere, making the movie feel anything but boring at all times.
Lanthimos always has a unorthodox conclusion, and “The Favourite” is no exception. This is one of those endings that may originally have you saying, “That’s it? No, there’s no way this is how it’s going to end.” But the more I thought about and digested what I saw, it may just be Lanthimos’ best ending to date. It is a perfect amount of symbolism, and gives you plenty to realize where the characters are at when the credits roll.
“The Favourite” managed to take my sky-high expectations and absolutely shatter them, easily becoming one of my favorite movies of the year. Weisz, Stone and Colman all give Oscar-caliber turns, and supporting roles from Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn also deserve praise for finding ways to be great around these three. The writing is some of the best this year, the cinematography and score are haunting and, as far as filmgoing experiences go, this is one of my favourites, ha ha, in a long time. This is a flawless movie, and one that will be in my head for months after viewing.