The Favourite (2018) Movie Review

By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –

The Favourite is the latest film by the polarizing director Yorgos Lanthimos. It tells a tale about Queen Anne of England during the 18th century and the love/hate triangle between her, Sarah, and Abigail. It’s filled with a stellar cast of: Olivia Coleman as Queen Anne, Emma Stone as newcomer servant Abigail, and Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah, Queen Anne’s right-hand woman. Abigail shows up looking for employment but quickly attempts to turn the Queen against Sarah so Abigail can take Sarah’s place. It’s an absolutely brilliant film, that’s equal parts dark and hilarious.

A Toast

I love Lanthimos’ American films, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, but I think this film really benefited from the script being written by someone else. Lanthimos’ dialogue can be a little dry and slow, which work for his previous films, but this script is exactly what it needed to be. It’s sharp-witted, dark, hilarious, and brutally honest. Can’t say I know much about Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis, but their dialogue is fast and rolls off the actors’ tongues like little daggers right into their co-stars. It’s like all the characters are working in a roast and it’s of each other.  Lanthimos’ directing is spot on, but it’s the script that really shines through.

The script and the actors go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. I don’t think it’s a case of the script making the actors look better or vice versa. They are both equally powerful and deserve all of the recognition. The performances are also equally brilliant, it’s not a case of one performance elevating the others. Rachel Weisz is having quite a year with this portrayal of Sarah and her performance in Disobedience earlier in the year. She is seeking out great roles for women and I cannot wait to see what else she’s got in the works; she’s quickly becoming one of the most exciting actors solely from her role choices.

Emma Stone is great as Abigail; she’s vicious, almost sociopathic in her quest to get rid of Sarah. It was great to see her in such an unlikable role and yet she was completely charming. It reminded me of Robert Pattinson in Good Time, she’s lying and conniving but she’s so good at it it’s like you missed something. Olivia Coleman is brilliant as Queen Anne, I’ve never seen a performance that walked this thin of a razor of unlikable and sympathetic. The Queen could’ve been such an unlikable character, but Coleman adds this level of tenderness and compassion to which you feel for the Queen through the entire film. I’ll be rooting for Olivia to win Best Actress at the Oscars. The last performance that I loved and I can’t believe isn’t getting more attention is Nicholas Hoult as Harley, he’s like a male version of Abigail in this film. Just like everyone else, Harley is looking out for his own interests, but Hoult is playing Harley as a straight man whose reactions are the funniest moments. I could watch him walk around on the street and call people cunt all day.

From a technical standpoint this film is great, and the Cinematography is a standout. I especially loved the quick shots from the fish eye lens. It’s as if we’re observing the castle from the view of the Queen’s rabbits who see and know all, they just can’t tell you anything. The editing is also stellar; there is a scene which cuts between Abigail attempting to poison Sarah and the men of the court throwing fruit at a naked man, it was a brilliant little moment showing the difference in harshness between men and women. Women play the long game, men are just violent. I also loved the minimal string score which perfectly accentuates every scene. Whether it’s a slow draw or a staccato pluck it’s the cherry on top of every scene.

It’s hard to watch this film and not be reminded of Barry Lyndon, especially because they take place during the same time period. I loved the small callback to Barry Lyndon with the use of candles or fire as the only lighting on a scene, and I especially loved the scene when Harley and Abigail are walking outside at night. The costumes and set design are also reminiscent of Barry Lyndon, but it’d be hard not to make a film in this time period without having stunning sets and costume designs. However, they are gorgeous nonetheless.

Verdict

I loved every moment of The Favourite, from its smart, sharp, brilliant writing and stellar acting to how gorgeous it is to look at. I couldn’t ask any more of this film and it is definitely one of my favorite films of the year.

The Favourite (2018) Drinking Game

Do a Shot: every time someone vomits.

Take a Drink: for every sexual innuendo.

Take a Drink: for every insult thrown.

Do a Shot: for every eating scene.

Do a Shot: for every use of the word “Cunt”.

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