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The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos has emerged to the English-speaking world as a savior-like director, bringing an incredibly unique style of directing and telling stories, the likes of which were unseen of since the times of Kubrick. In fact, his unique style can be described as a mix of hilarious satirizing a la Mel Brooks, and gritty yet dreamlike realism. His first two English-language films were the fabulous The Lobster in 2015 and the darker The Killing of the Sacred Deer, which premiered only last year. His latest film is sure to be a cementation of this director in Hollywood.

The Favourite is a true story account of the English court in the first decade of the 18th century. In that time Queen Anne was reigning during a time that has been afterwards characterized as a weak stance of the British on the world stage. This film looks at the monarch of the time: Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) as she is vied by her close confidant Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and a new maid who curries her favor, Abigail (Emma Stone). The result is a political drama that delves in and out of satire and history.

Lanthimos might have crafted his greatest work yet; this picture will certainly play well with more general audiences, who might have been put off by his more absurd scenes in his previous films. The Favourite is able to keep Lanthimos’ tone of vague surrealism, all the while crafting an incredibly emotional story anchored with three amazing performances. Lanthimos is one to play with films’ themes and arrange them in a rollercoaster manner, one moment you might be watching a historically accurate address to parliament, and the next lords and ladies will be dancing in 21st century style at a royal ball. All the while Lanthimos is sure to keep you on your toes and slightly uncomfortable. The Greek director is able to achieve such discomfort through technical means, such as with the fish-eye lens that gives certain scenes and shots the feeling that one is watching CCTV footage, or with the varying soundtrack, which will play pleasant staccatos one moment and quickly switch to an intense church organ piece the next.

Lanthimos has always played around with societal standards. The Lobster was the picture that most clearly addressed that. In that film’s world if people didn’t find a mate they would be turned into an animal as punishment forever (commenting on the panic of necessity of people today to be in relationships); in The Favourite Lanthimos takes on the more current topic of gender dynamics. The three women in this film are the most powerful characters on screen, and in fact the men are subtly portrayed and addressed as women throughout the film. The males are the most heavily dressed and with the most obvious make-up, while the women retain much simpler costuming and mascaras (if at all). The women even wore pants more often than the men did. The end result is an entire film revolving around these three women’s vying for power; with the men seeming to get in the way with their trivial wants.

The film couldn’t have been complete without a proper cast, and Lanthimos is thankfully able to get some of the best performances from these actresses’ careers. Coleman in particular breaks out by giving her Queen Anne incredible complexity and versatility; in one moment you might be disgusted with her meanness and thirty seconds later you will be shedding tears and sympathizing with her. The British actress has been grossly underappreciated throughout her career and it seems that she might be finally getting the recognition she deserves with this film.

It certainly feels like you’re watching a classic gem from decades ago, but with a modern twist adding a tone of floating timelessness. The Favourite is a film that will bring about as unique an experience as you might encounter in cinemas today.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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