nate’s review published on Letterboxd:
"As it turns out, I'm capable of much unpleasantness"
Yorgos Lanthimos is a director of notable bizarreness. I’ve seen two other films of his, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and each has managed to entrance me with their brilliant absurdities and Lanthimos’ distinct direction. Yorgos has reached a new milestone as a director with this new film. The Favourite, quite frankly, is a masterpiece all around. Yorgos Lanthimos finely tunes his meticulous direction even more and creates a film that’s not only a technical wonder but also a piece of filmmaking that exquisitely delivers a story of love, sex, manipulation, and deception that will captivate audiences for many years.
The film takes place in 18th century England, a time of much political turmoil, and centers upon Queen Anne, a queen who doesn’t exactly live up to the image of “royalty”, and two cousins fighting to be her favourite. Queen Anne doesn’t really seem that into her role as a queen. She’s been haunted by maladies, both physical and mental, and she would rather just take solace in playing with her rabbits than deciding tax rates. I’m going to be honest this role could have honestly been very one note, but Olivia Coleman elevates this woman to levels of comedic excellence. Watching her behave as a little girl and seeing the distress that plagues her eyes throughout the film is honestly so intriguing to watch. She’s absolutely outstanding. The other two women who take up the spotlight in this film are two cousins, one of already high status and the other of fallen status but eager to reclaim her place. These woman are played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, who honestly give career best performances here. Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill is quite exquisite. She delivers all her lines with an acrid venom, and each person who she bites definitely feels the sting of her malicious verbiage. Emma Stone plays Abigail Masham, a seductive woman with inviting eyes who uses her sexuality and her charm to get what she wants, the desire to be a lady of the court. Seeing these two women vie for the queen’s gaze of affection is quite frankly some of the funniest material i’ve seen on screen ever. All of these actresses play off of each other is outstanding. I can definitely see why this women are rumored to all get nominations this upcoming awards season. They showcased true craft at taking this expertly written script and bringing humorous life to these historical figures on the big screen.
The technicalities of the The Favourite are mesmerizing to say the least. Marked by natural light and the outlandish decadence of the castle, each shot in The Favourite is a visual wonder, whether it be a regular shot of a bedroom or a fish eye shot of the kitchen. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan deserves a raise because honestly this was one of the most beautiful films i’ve seen. Whoever suggested this palace and decorated the interior for the film deserves an award. It’s so captivating to watch these bizarre people play out against a background of decadence. The costumes and makeup are brilliant too. From clownish, ghastly makeup to beautifully fabricated dresses made up of shades of black and white, The Favourite really nails decorating its characters. The sound design also is a whole other level. The score here managed to make me tense, uneasy, and awed in this film’s two hour runtime.
All of these aspects come together to create a film that is a true monument of filmmaking. I know this film will be remembered for years. It’s screenplay is just so memorable, and the film is just so well made I don’t know what else to say. The Favourite so far is my favourite film of the year. I’m curious to see how other films will be because right now I just don’t see anything else coming close.