“The Favorite” brings different perspective, gains mixed reviews


Creative Commons Photo Courtesy of Ibsan73

Actress Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne in “The Favorite.” https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Vaughn Battista

Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, “The Favourite”, is a step in a bold new direction for the prolific director. After creating two indie hits, this is a change of pace for him, containing a star-studded cast and a newfound focus on the true story of Queen Anne. The risk ultimately paid off, as the film is one of the most engaging and memorable films of the year.

The film centers around Queen Anne and how her two servants, Abigail and Sarah, fought to earn the spot as her court favourite. While the premise seems fairly mundane, Lanthimos paints the British aristocracy in an entirely new light. The characters seem crazy, manipulative and inhumane, forcing the viewer to reconsider their perceptions about the nature of the 18th century.

Lanthimos makes a brilliant use of direction to underscore this idea. He utilizes unique shots and camera movements that blend the film together to illustrate both the grandeur and the decadence of the aristocratic lifestyle. The music is unconventional and gives an isolating feeling of distance from the events being portrayed. By throwing out standard Hollywood techniques, “The Favourite” has a sense of style unmatched by any other this year.

Despite the brilliance of Lanthimos’ direction, the film is ultimately carried by its three leads. Olivia Colman takes the power and status of Queen Anne and reduces her to an emotional child, while adding enough subtlety that she never comes off as melodramatic. Rachel Weisz does an amazing job of portraying the cold, calculated Sarah, delivering her lines with a dry sense of wit. Emma Stone rounds the trio off with her sympathetic yet sinister portrayal of Abigail. The constant banter between the three makes for many of the most interesting scenes throughout the film.

That being said, “The Favourite” is not for everyone. Do not come into it with the expectations of a standard period drama, as it is a film that relishes in making the viewers uncomfortable. While this makes for an interesting film, it no doubt will turn many away and leave them confused. Though polarizing, “The Favourite” is certainly one of the most memorable films of the year.