The Favourite

The Favourite ★★★★½

One of the best moviegoing experiences you can have is when you go on what appears to be a trip outside a filmmaker’s wheelhouse only to discover that wheelhouse was bigger than you thought.

Oddball humor? Check. Alienating photography? Check. Feel for the weirdness underlying human behavior? Check. But who knew Yorgos Lanthimos was this good at sketching character portraits? As great as LOBSTER and KILLING OF A SACRED DEER were, those were clearly cases where Colin Farrell and the others were puppets at the mercy of directorial whims. That’s not true of the three women here; if it weren’t for all the mannerisms this could be a people-watching movie.

And watching them is fun; it’s fascinating how they carve out corners for themselves in court society, and the blunt, no-nonsense way they view it is hysterical. Yet the movie gets more and more disconcerting as it goes along, with Yorgos constantly forcing you to re-think your perceptions of the characters. Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne isn’t really a spoiled, infantile puppet, Rachel Weisz’s Sarah isn’t quite the heartless, manipulative warden, and Emma Stone’s Abigail is definitely not the simple, open-hearted audience surrogate. Assume otherwise at your own peril.

That poor rabbit…

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