MOVIE: THE FAVOURITE
STARRING: RACHEL WEISZ; OLIVIA COLEMAN; EMMA STONE; NICOLAS HOULT
DIRECTED BY: YORGOS LANTHIMOS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
If you can picture a baseball bat, three hands, and each hand creeping up to the knob of the bat, fighting to be the last one holding on as the winner-That would be the best metaphor to describe Yorgos Lanthimos' The Favourite. It's a period piece, set in 18th Century England, where Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) rules, but she only listens to the wise words of friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). That is, until a new servant by the name of Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, fighting for the attention of her beloved Queen. It's a 3-woman cage match, displayed with gorgeous costumes, elaborate set designs, and three of the best performances of the year from this trio of actors. The Favourite is a delectable battle of power, position, and status, in what is another fantastic work from Yorgos Lanthimos.
It helps to know the past work of Lanthimos, who bursted into cinema with 2009's Dogtooth, but cemented his position with 2015's beautifully strange The Lobster. His films are eccentric, to say the least, but his style is always consistent. If fans thought they understood his work before, he went and messed with their heads making the uncomfortable and devilish- The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The Favourite is the perfect mix of his brand. He uses his trademark long tracking shots, following the queen down halls of the massive palace, uses fish-eye lenses with cinematographer Robbie Ryan, creating an almost drunk state to looking at the gaudy home of wealth, and never takes us away from our characters in the room. Three deep characters, with shifting emotions, each one making us laugh and gasp at every chess move at hand.
Talking about The Favourite requires an in-depth analysis of the three performances from Coleman, Weisz, and Stone. Each one different and all three equally fantastic. Coleman is the queen, a role that is unflattering, and the main attraction of the other two character's eye. Her performance is layered because she must be a person in power, although she is clearly not cut out for the role, and has been worn down by a history of loss in her life. Weisz's Lady Sarah is the middle child. In my opinion, the best performance of the three, as a woman fighting to keep the status she has, domineering and quick with a gun. Stone arrives as the mysterious spitfire. Her performance as Abigail is that of a climber, looking for every way that she can make herself look good to the queen and with each maneuver she makes, inching closer to power. Stone just continues to surprise, from Birdman, to La La Land, to this, she has proved herself worthy at the top.
The rest of the praise belongs to the overall production of The Favourite. The screenplay from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara is a beautifully wild mixture of humor, madness, and dramatics. The cinematic comparisons are to that of Monty Python and the Holy Grail or various other Terry Gilliam pieces, all which whisk us away, back in time, to a period we do not remember. If the performances from the three ladies cancel each other out, then surely the academy will be prepared to reward The Favourite for the excellent costume and set designs. There is not a single shot that does not look fit for a queen.
I have veered away from telling you anything else that happens in The Favourite, but this is a movie for one to discover. If this is an audience members first experience with Yorgos Lanthimos, then I believe it will be a successful one, as the narrative is technically conventional for his standards. Although we get strange things, such as duck races, elaborate dance sequences, poison tea, and wild whig parties, The Favourite is still a movie that sticks with you long after the end. The Favourite is a big royal success.
Written by: Leo Brady