Director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with another unique film
On the surface, The Favourite might seem like yet another British royalist period piece in the era of Downton Abbey and The Crown. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Favourite has bite — sometimes literally — and a wicked sense of humor. Its lesbian and bisexual storylines are given depth, complexity and central attention. The plot is gripping, and the ending surprising.
Emma Stone plays a disgraced Lady, working hard as a maid for the aging Anne, Queen of Great Britain (played by an exquisite Olivia Colman) to regain her noble status after her husband sold her off. For an American actress, her British accent does not feel forced or false. Opposite Rachel Weisz’s Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, Stone does career-best work battling for the lustful Anne’s attention. Weisz gives the film the heft and weight it needs to feel grounded in the time period, while also giving us some GIF-worthy quips.
This is no surprise if you have seen one of director Yorgos Lanthimos’ films. His 2015 work The Lobster established him as an awards-worthy auteur with a penchant for the irregular. I mean, the plot of The Lobster found actor Colin Farrell forced to couple up by a deadline, or else he would turn into a lobster. Last year’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer starring Farrell and Nicole Kidman also had a purposefully off tone. Its provocative dialog was delivered a clinical, dry tone by stone-faced actors.
While The Favourite certainly contains irregular moments and provocative dialog, it is different from Lobster and Deer in that it feels a bit more palatable for mainstream audiences. Judging by the reaction of the sold out audience, all the jokes land and all the twists tantalize. It could be one of the rare awards season films to be a surprise box office hit.
Now playing in select theaters
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