This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Ethan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I'll be frank.
I haven't watched any Yorgos Lanthimos films before The Favourite, but I had a vague idea that he was this outside-the-box, experimental type of filmmaker(judging from people's reactions to Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer). The Favourite wasn't as experimental or subversive as I had hoped for — but that's not really a significant downside because the film is nonetheless so good in itself. No director has to adhere to one specific style, they can make anything they want however they want.
There are so many things to love about this film. As a big fan of Barry Lyndon, I saw so many similarities between that and this film. Lanthimos and the crew obviously took some leaves out of Kubrick's feature in the set design and particularly how the timing of orchestral music was aligned with the motions of characters, and also how the indoor lighting used vivid candlelight(although I don't know whether they were lit only with candlelight, as was the case with Barry Lyndon). In any case, The Favourite is both beautiful and unique. I say unique as in the use of fish-eye lens to give a traditional setting a non-traditional feeling.
Now, you know me; I don't care much about the Oscars, but if The Favourite doesn't win at least one award, I'll be very disappointed. In every level, it is either very good or excellent. Performance wise, I think I haven't quite seen a performance like Olivia Colman's turn as Queen Anne. She's moody, incorrigible, sly and childlike at the same time — with a slight difference in acting and direction, the Queen would have easily been either too silly or too off-putting, but Colman manages to make her an actual, multi-dimensional character. And while the Queen outshines both, I'd say Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were also magnificent as their respective characters.
Although some might complain that The Favourite ends on a low note with not much happening, I'd probably disagree with them. It's not one of those flashy early-2000s love triangle films, this is something much more thoughtful. Abigail's dreams of empire, Sarah's desire for her love and Queen Anne's (supposed) midlife crisis mesh together to create a tense tug of war. Nothing drastic has to happen, all that is needed is a payoff to the characters' actions — and there are payoffs to our three main characters' actions. In that context, I have nothing to complain about.
(P.S.: I didn't know Mark Gatiss was in this movie. Good on him for having such a prolific career on film. It almost seems like yesterday when he released 'Nightshade', the eighth novel in the Virgin New Adventures series...)