Thursday, 21 March 2019
PREPARE to be wowed by Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, a delicious and unique period drama with three Oscar-contending performances at its heart.
Leading the ensemble is Olivia Colman, in a career-defining turn as Queen Anne that earned her the best actress award at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and puts her firmly at the head of the pack for the coming 2019 awards season.
She’s matched by two outstanding performances from Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, the latter working with Lanthimos for the first time (both Colman and Weisz having starred in 2015’s The Lobster).
Weisz beautifully etches Lady Sarah, childhood friend to Queen Anne and the only person able to tame her unpredictable nature, while Stone is pitch-perfect as her scheming cousin, Abigail, a social climber seeking work at the palace.
What emerges is a subtle, delicious rivalry played by two actors at the top of their game.
After the Oscar- nominated Dogtooth and The Lobster, plus the critically acclaimed The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Favourite is Lanthimos’s first foray into historical drama. The film explores the shifting dynamics of its multi-dimensional female characters, but does it with typical Lanthimos bravura.
This is no stuffy corset drama. With stunning visuals — including the breathtaking use of a fisheye lens — we get a front-row seat for all the beautifully poised backstabbing as the relationships between the central trio become increasingly tangled.
Lanthimos’s signature dark comedy is undeniable in The Favourite, but there are moments of real emotion between the trio as their predicaments become more transparent.
Each has her own cross to bear. Abigail may appear power-hungry, but her options outside the palace are far less favourable than cosying up to the queen. Sarah’s position as the Queen’s right hand is under threat. And Anne wrestles with her own ill health and insecurities, which themselves are a product of a lifetime of misfortunes.
Supporting the trio of leading ladies, a tantalising array of British talent flex their comedic muscles.
The screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara is razor-sharp and witty, granting us a glimpse into a stunningly realised world we haven’t seen before.
This is pageantry but with a debauched flavour — indoor duck races and pelting bewigged men with pomegranates hold sway in Queen Anne’s court.
• The Favourite is showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse cinema from Monday (December 31).
31 December 2018
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