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The Favourite ★★★★

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Released: 1st January 2019

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult ,Joe Alwyn and Mark Gatiss

Reviewed By: Dion Wyn

Yorgos Lanthimos is back on the Lido with his latest The Favourite. Deemed to be his most award friendly film to date, Yorgos has gone for his Barry Lyndon attempt but with a Lanthimosian twist. For any fan of the director most are intrigued to see how he will succeed without his screenplay collaborator Efthymis Filippou? So what is The Favourite about you ask? It’s the early 18th century and England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving at court. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to both Sarah and the queen, and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become intense, so too does intrigue at the palace. Abigail is determined to fulfil her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.

Yorgos Lanthimos has created a purely bonkers costume dramedy. He takes you on a journey of pure absurdity that only he can master. The auteur film-maker is constantly evolving his style film by film. The Favourite uses a lot of fading shots which is integral to the dwindling relationship between Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz. But as shown in the trailers the fish eye lens just doesn’t cut the mustard. It feels like he is trying to disjoint the audience, it works only when the characters are by themselves and the audience see who they really are. Less is more in this matter. In true Lanthimosian form The Favourite is dry, witty and snappy, and Yorgos isn’t necessarily missing Efthymis Filippou. But structurally it takes time for The Favourite to become it’s natural self. The pacing of the film can tend to go rather flimsy in some segments; be it a long conversation or a pointless chase. It doesn’t stop The Favourite from flourishing but it hinders it from greatness.

The eventful build up to The Favourite is crucial, you must submerge yourself into it or you will float and lose patients. The grandeur of The Favourite shines of a Barry Lyndon homage, the natural lighting to start gives it a sparkle. The costumes and the set design give you hints of Marie Antoinette. The normality of its design is what beckons the inner strangeness of the film. Emma Stone will seem out of place but this is on purpose. Her tale is by far the most interesting and a strong performance too boot. She bounces off Olivia Coleman and their strange kinetic energy intoxicates the screen. Coleman gives a worthy performance as always , she comes across as the Queen of Hearts but with gout! As for Rachel Weisz she doesn’t really connect with me, her jealousy is raw but nothing more comes from her. The Favourite will tantalise and test your patience. Yorgos Lanthimos never ceases to amaze me.

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