It takes a special kind of director to have already forged such a unique visual style and creative method of storytelling, with relatively few major features under his belt. But Yorgos Lanthimos is one such director and one who has undeniably earned that often used mantle of “visionary” director.
Seconds into a Lanthimos film, you know who the director is, and you also know you’re in for a wild time. His films tend to divide opinion, but it is fair to say that The Favourite is his most accessible film to date. Hopefully, this then opens up the doors into the rest of his filmography and new people can discover the diversity in his films that lies behind it!
The Favourite focuses on three female characters; the petulant Queen Anne (Colman), her devoted friend Lady Sarah (Weisz), and the new servant Abigail (Stone). What follows is a riotous period romp as Lady Sarah and Abigail fight for the Queen’s attention. The Favourite is a film that veers wildly between the grotesque and the sublime, and Lanthimos’ trademark offbeat and jet-black comedy runs right through it.
Lanthimos’ equally unique visual stamp is all over this movie. There are moments of precise Kubrickian symmetry in some of the tracking shots, and it’s full of weird angles, whip-pans and fisheye lenses. The Favourite is a decadent and sumptuous feast for the eyes. This is a playful film, one that toys with you, and also one that feels indulgent, whimsical, and wild. Fans of this director will know what to expect, and The Favourite absolutely does not disappoint in this sense.
It’s possibly the highest possible compliment you could pay, given her career so far, but this is possibly the best performance of Olivia Colman’s career. She is clearly having tremendous fun with the role, but she has a remarkable knack for making the Queen consistently likeable, even in the most outrageous moments. It’s a committed and tremendously physical role for her as well, and she absolutely astounds. Equally, Weisz and Stone give terrific performances and the three of them together have a chemistry that simply lights up the screen.
Where previously his film’s have proved divisive, The Favourite may just be the film that changes people’s minds on Yorgos Lanthimos. Its exceptional A-List cast might be the major draw for some people, but The Favourite has so much more to offer beyond that. Wickedly funny and delectably dark, this is Lanthimos’ strongest film of his career, and one of the best films of the year. Go on, indulge yourselves!
Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Emma Delves