The Favourite seems to be everyone's favourite to win big at the 2019 academy awards. Whilst it's still early days and nobody knows the certified list of Oscar contenders, Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos rockets into the new year with a foul mouthed and filthy period drama. This trailblazing director is notorious for his arthouse filmography and deadpan execution, with his latest feature certainly no exception. Winding the grandfather clock back to early 18th century England, we find a declining Queen Anne occupying the throne with the aid of her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. This intimate relationship is soon disrupted by the arrival of Abigail - Sarah's charming, yet misfortunate cousin.
Wicked, dark and meticulous - The Favourite flaunts a tour de force of contemporary acting royalty. Lanthimos unleashes a plethora of smut, scandal and deception in his latest cinema achievement. Although appearing as a standard historical portrait, The Favourite displays a complete lack of sophistication and civility. By the end of the story there is no glue nor plaster that can salvage this completely cracked canvas, and no way of keeping hold of any sort of decorum. Lantimos has put together a picture that is dizzying in every sense of the word; each element weaves into the other, culminating into a cut throat misadventure that leaves very little breathing room.
Through lavish cinematography and exquisite guidance with the camera Lanthimos immerses you into the turmoil of a troubled Queen Anne's reign. Boasting unorthodox shot types, he makes very effective use of the rather outlandish fish eye lens - emphasising the scale of Anne's loneliness as the broken hearted, childless widow. Lantimos embeds his unique artistic style within the foundations of this movie, using the camera as a tool to unravel the narrative; although it may seem arty-farty at times he has buckets full of substance to match.
The Favourite showcases a leading trio of the current creme de la creme. At just thirty, Emma Stone echoes talent on a Meryl Streep level. Feted for her nicey-nicey, girl next door roles to date - Stone is shocking as the manipulative Abigail, easily her most striking performance to date. Rachel Weiz stars as Lady Sarah; blunt and brutal, her almost hypnotic delivery underpins just how marvellous Debora Davis and Tony McNamara's screenplay is. Not to forget the amazing Olivia Coleman, triumphant as the complex, almost Shakesperianly tragic Queen Anne. Coleman whines, screams and vomits across the entire film but she brings a genuine sense or sorrow and vulnerability to her role. In spite of this The Favourite is an impish, mean spirited character study, and absolutely none of it would work at all if there wasn't such profound chemistry between the three of them.
The Favourite doesn't have a single composer but rather combines the likes of Vivaldi, Bach and Handel with a violent string soundtrack mimicking the unnerving twinge of characters and their relationships. The unusually spaced out lettering in the opening credits tell you everything you need to know - The Favourite really is an innovative and off the wall take at the period drama. Over the years Lantimos has pioneered himself as an envelope pushing filmmaker with a unique set of directing chops, here he delivers the same dark artistry we've seen in previous work Dogtooth and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Most of all The Favourite aligns three flawless individuals who together serve up an absolute whirlwind cinema delight - a surprising yet fantastic way to start the year.
The Favourite :
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.