The Favourite (2018)
The Favourite is written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, and is about two cousins fighting for the endearment of Queen Anne during the 18th century.
Straight out the gate: this film is a menagerie of mastery — the direction, the cinematography, the production, the score, the script, and most of all, the performances. This cast was outstanding, and the fact that the film got snubbed at Screen Actors Guild Awards is perplexing.
Olivia Colman gives the best and most complex female performance of the year as Queen Anne. She is such a well-balanced, multi-layered character and transcends the role of protagonist and antagonist with remarkable ease. She is the subject of the film, much more so than the two supporting women, and is an absorbing subject. Her character explores the effects of loneliness, insanity, corruption, and power, and becomes a mesmerizing sight through and through. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are vipers in this film, working off of each other’s anger and envy so superbly and with such wicked grace. With Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn added to the mix with their respectively sinister and absurd performances, this cast is wonderful, as is the film itself.
The issue I usually have with period pieces is the pacing, as I cannot stand a slow, dry period piece. Yorgos Lanthimos’ pacing is perfect, and his direction and script are icing on top to create an effortlessly engaging film; it’s a UFO that sucks you in, picks at your brain and senses, then releases you once the film is over, leaving you stupefied. The analogy can be solidified by Robbie Ryan’s otherworldly cinematography—a tonal chameleon that can perfectly blend into a scene’s energy while maintaining its vibrancy. As a finishing touch to all of these fabulous aspects, Lanthimos’ script is witty and vicious, all of the characters in this film are at each other’s throats with sharp dialogue and a complex narrative, with an ending that will leave you stunned.
This film has the best performances of the year, the best cinematography of the year, and the best writing of the year. The Favourite is simultaneously wild and controlled, and a brilliant addition to Yorgos Lanthimos’ already superb filmography.