The darling of deadpan, Yorgos Lanthimos has once again worked his enigmatic style to deliver a film that is part-period piece and part-anachronistic satire.
Anyone who has experienced the quirkiness of The Lobster or the uneasiness of The Killing of a Sacred Deer will know that the writer/director has a cynical view of humanity.
His unique style, often touted as a humorous Kubrick, twangs on the raw nerves of his audience. The Favourite is no different and tonally this film snuggles comfortably in between his two previous outings. It straddles that surreal space between spoof and serious period drama and is a satirical glance at a warring nation as well as a direct stare at the human condition.
The story takes place in 18th Century England and focuses on three deeply flawed characters; Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) as the incompetent, needy and childlike monarch Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz (My Cousin Rachel) as her ruthless but trusted adviser Lady Sarah, and Emma Stone (Birdman) as the interloping, scheming social climber, Abigail.
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Men for the most part are cast to the margins, sent to war, or form impotent chattels, which Abigail and Sarah use in their contest for Queen Anne's affection.
It's a delightfully venomous pair of performances from Weisz and Stone who serve and volley salvos of shrewd deceitfulness at each other. But Colman's portrayal of Queen Anne steals the show with a pained but often hilarious performance that packs equal measures of giddy glee and pathos.
The absurdist dark humour won't appeal to everyone—depending on your level of cynicism, you'll either witness a masterful work of profundity or an overcooked piece of silliness. I loved it.
Cast: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Running time: 120 mins
Rating: R13 (Sexual material, offensive language & content that may disturb)
Verdict: An eccentric look at the dark side of decadence.