The Favourite

The Favourite ★★★½

From the director of The Lobster & The Killing of a Sacred Deer comes yet another idiosyncratic feature, this time a historical period comedy. The Favourite may be more accessible than Yorgos Lanthimos' previous efforts but the film certainly isn't devoid of the absurd, whacky elements that define his works.

The story takes place in 18th century England and focuses on the power struggle that erupts between a frail queen who occupies the throne, her close friend who governs the country in her stead, and a new maid with an agenda of her own who steps between the two after she senses an opportunity to realise her ambitions.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the first act is an absolute riot that finds the Greek filmmaker doing what he does best with a series of quirky moments that help set up the stage while introducing the relevant characters whose arcs only get more complex as plot progresses. The story is straightforward but the execution leads to one wicked ride.

The skilfully executed technical aspects provide added assistance, starting with the sumptuous production & costume design that brings the period setting to life in splendid detail. The exquisite use of fisheye lens, smooth camera manoeuvring & low-light photography provide its frames a bizarre but lifelike quality that's all the more uplifted by its eclectic score.

But it's the female trio that power this film. Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz & Emma Stone lead the show with outstanding inputs and their chemistry with each other only intensifies with time. All three of them get to have their shining moment and make the most of their screen space. But Nicholas Hoult also deserves a mention, for his supporting act doesn't go unnoticed in a film steered by terrific actresses.

On an overall scale, The Favourite is a tale of power, passion & politics that's bolstered by first-rate performances from its leading ladies and marks another fascinating entry in Yorgos Lanthimos' steadily rising filmography. The third act doesn't hold as strong as the first two but there is no denying that it's a well crafted & smartly executed work from a filmmaker in prime form. Worth a shot for the powerhouse performances alone. And the power dynamics at play. And that duck race!

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