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The Favourite Review

By Ian Crow

2019 is here. It’s finally arrived. We can turn our back on last year’s movies and come into the new afresh of what I’m hoping will be a year of fantastic cinema (I always wish for this) that elevates my love for film yet again. Starting off the New Year is the new movie by Greek film maker Yargos Lanthimos, ‘The Favourite’. Set in the early 18th Century, it revolves around an unconventional love triangle between Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone). Straight off the bat, you can tell that Queen Anne is an extremely fragile and lost woman. She has let herself go after many years of trauma and loss and has effectively decided to give up. Relying heavily on Lady Sarah to govern the country in her tragic state of mind, Lady Sarah is basically untouchable until Abigail turns up. A lonely maid who happens to be cousins with Lady Sarah sees the fragility of Queen Anne and decides to battle Lady Sarah for the Queen’s love and effectively compete to be her ‘favourite’.

As it is my first outing to the cinema in 2019 ‘The Favourite’ has already become my favourite of the year (that’s one too many puns already). But in all seriousness, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the cinematic schedule of 2019. ‘The Favourite’ is certainly a very unconventional movie and will certainly part the seas in terms of audience reaction and judgment. This has already been seen in his previous work including ‘The Lobster’, ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ but I was already a fan. What I love the most about the Greek director is in the famous words by Forrest Gump, you never know what you’re going to get. Yes, you know to expect a bombardment of weirdness and silliness but not quite how it’s going to be presented. This is what makes him such an intriguing director. He manages to turn the tables of a typical, lame, boring period drama and make it funny and a hell of a lot of fun! I wasn’t necessarily excited to see the film originally but it’s definitely one to see as you get a lot more than you bargained for.

The biggest selling point for the movie though is the fantastic ensemble cast which includes Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Three fantastic actresses that hardly put a foot wrong, ‘The Favourite’ included.  Bringing these three wonderful women together is a joy to behold. Their on-screen presence and rapport with each other is easily seen and that enables each one of them to unleash a flurry of powerful and versatile performances. Weisz is calm, collected, yet comes across like a brute and is done so very well. Colman plays Queen Anne superbly and is by far my favourite performance of hers that I can recall. Her ability to weave from acting like a petulant child to a strong independent woman, who is aching to the bones through pain seem effortless. Emma Stone, as always, superb in her delivery and actually does a decent English accent (that’s extremely rare for an American to do). Cunning in her delivery as the up-to-no-good Abigail, Stone shows everyone again her raw talent and in my opinion, should be recognised at the Academy Awards this year. In fact, all three leading ladies deserve a nod.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching ‘The Favourite’ and after careful consideration, I think its Lanthimos’s best work to date. In terms of re-watch ability and all round performance, this is his best. What I love most is, as you can tell, the triangle of leading performances between Colman, Weisz and Stone, but Lanthimos’ directing. He has the ability to give you the ‘fly on the wall’ perspective that makes you feel like you’re in the room with his characters. This is put to effect in ‘The Favourite’, especially in the small confines of corridors and staircases that almost feel claustrophobic in the film. Another way of describing this is the ‘fish-eye effect’ used on the lens. The lens gives a strong visual distortion to the picture whilst creating a wide panoramic image. The strong distortion use of the lens is, in my opinion, a brilliant way to convey the thoughts of Queen Anne. Similarly to the camera distortion her judgment and views are extremely distorted throughout and is unable to see the games and trickery that Abigail is playing. Overall though, ‘The Favourite’ is brilliant and a strong start to 2019 indeed.

Check out our review for another 2019 movie: Beautiful Boy Review starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet.

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