Review: THE FAVOURITE Is An Intelligent Period Satire

FIRST IMPRESSION

Apart from a few slow moments, The Favorite is a phenomenal film. It features some of the best performances, cinematography, and set design of the year.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

The Favourite is the newest film by director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer). It is about a frail Queen Anne during the early 18th century as her favoritism shifts between her friend, Lady Sarah, and a new servant, Abigail. It debuted at the 2018 Venice Film Festival and has been picking up great reviews and awards buzz ever since.

This is the first English-language movie by Yorgos Lanthimos which he did not also write, yet it nonetheless still very much feels like a film by him. It contains many of the quirks of Lanthimos’s style, with the major exception being that the dialogue does not feel as cold and flat as in his other movies. It still contains the same rapid dialogue, dark sense of humor and cynicism towards humanity.

The main issue with the film is that it does not have the excellent pacing of Lanthimos’s other work. Usually, his movies build and compound suspense. This film is much more straightforward, feeling almost melodramatic. It is still extremely enjoyable, but it isn’t as absorbing or atmospheric as you would hope.

the favourite stone
Emma Stone in the film THE FAVOURITE. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

The characters are amazingly complex. The script is surprisingly effective at humanizing Queen Anne despite the fact that she is literally royalty. She is immensely sympathetic and does a great job of running the film. On the other hand, Abigail and Lady Sarah are dynamically-written. The audience switches between loving and hating each of them multiple times over the course of the story.

The movie is also absolutely hilarious. There are multiple scenes throughout that caused the audience to roar in laughter. The humor is perhaps more accessible than that of Lanthimos’s other movies because it is slightly less deranged, although still dark. The caustic wit of the script also goes a long way towards making the film more enjoyable. Additionally, there are elements of physical comedy throughout that work really well.

The execution is very strong. The cinematography is some of the best of the whole year. The framing is absolutely wonderful, creating both a sense of extravagance and an unsettling tone. The movements are also phenomenal. The movie utilizes quite a few pans and tracking shots, and these are impressively smooth. Most intriguing about the camerawork, though, is the use of the fish-eye lens. This distorts the image, further building the tone.

the favourite dancing
Rachel Weisz and Joe Alwyn in the film THE FAVOURITE. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

The set design is amazing too. The film’s ability to transport the audience back to England in the 1700’s is admirable. The scale with which the palace was built is awe-inspiring. The attention to detail in the costuming is very exact as well. Another element that worked very well was the movie’s score. It is a blend of more classical music and the darker melodies characteristic of thrillers. This does a great job of building atmosphere.

However, the absolute best part of the film is its performances. Olivia Colman is being pushed as the lead and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are being pushed as supporting actresses. Honestly, any of the three of them could have fit into either category. The three of them are all so good, yet somehow, no one overshadows anyone else. They are all given ample time to flex their chops. This was particularly daring work for Emma Stone, who has never done a role quite like this, and it works. This is her best performance. There are also some great performers in the supporting cast, like Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn. Alwyn actually has a few moments that rank among the funniest of the movie.

Overall, The Favourite is a very solid film. It isn’t quite a masterpiece, as it has some parts in which it drags, but it is enjoyable and extremely well-made. This is one not to miss.

The Favourite is now playing in select theaters and has an ongoing expansion.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

Dynasty | Season 3 Episode 16 | Is The Next Surgery On The House? Promo | The CW

Stream new episodes of Dynasty Saturdays free only on The CW: http://go.cwtv.com/DYNyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About DYNASTY: Fallon Carrington is charismatic, cunning, and poised to become the new COO of her father’s global energy empire – or so she thinks. When her father, Blake Carrington, summons Fallon and her brother, Steven, home in Atlanta, Fallon is…

Breeders | Season 1 Ep. 7: No Exit Preview | FX

It's half term and Luke is responsible for taking Lenny the class bear on an adventure. Lenny has been to Italy, Peru and beyond, but Paul can't even manage to get the family and the godforsaken bear out of the house to the local park. Subscribe now for more Breeders clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX FX’s Breeders is…

‘Visual Learners’ Ep. 3 Official Clip | Black Monday | Season 2

Mo breaks down his deal to El Sastre and his men. Starring Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells and Regina Hall. Watch Black Monday Sundays at 10/9c only on SHOWTIME. #BlackMonday Subscribe to the SHOWTIME YouTube channel: http://goo.gl/esCMib Don’t have SHOWTIME? Order now: https://s.sho.com/1HbTNpQ Get SHOWTIME merchandise now: https://sho.com/store_yt_showtime Get more SHOWTIME: Follow: https://twitter.com/Showtime Like: https://www.facebook.com/showtime Instagram:…

Better Things | Season 4 Ep. 4: Sam and Max’s Fight Highlight | FX

Everybody knows this fight. Subscribe now for more Better Things clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Better Things is the story of Sam Fox, a single mother and working actor with no filter, raising her three daughters in Los Angeles. She also looks after her mother, an English expat who lives across the street. Whether she's earning a living,…

Outer Banks | Official Trailer | Netflix

Four friends. One summer. And $400 million in gold. Outer Banks is coming to Netflix April 15: https://www.netflix.com/title/80236268 Outer Banks is a coming of age story that follows a tight-knit group of local teens (aka the Pogues) in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When a hurricane kills the power for the summer season, it…

Star Trek: Picard – We’re Not All Machines Here (Ep. 9, “Et In Arcadia Ego, Part 1”)

The motley crew meets Dr. Alton Inigo Soong, who is the only organic living on Coppelius and bears a strong resemblance to Data. Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Picard on Thursdays, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS All Access. Stream all-new episodes of "Star Trek: Picard" on Thursdays, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS…

The Plot Against America Podcast: Part 3 | Episode 3 | HBO

In the third episode, host Peter Sagal sits down with The Plot Against America creator and executive producer David Simon to discuss Part Three of the limited series. Sagal and Simon unpack life under a Lindbergh Presidency, including Bengelsdorf’s “Just Folks” assimilation program, and the historical precedent of anti-Jewish discrimination in the US. They also…

Brews Brothers | Official Trailer | Netflix

Grab a pint and watch ‘em fight. Brews Brothers premieres April 10 on Netflix. Watch Brews Brothers, only on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/brewsbrothers SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with over 167 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here