Film Reviews

The Favourite (2018)

Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz,

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

18th Century England, and Queen Anne sits on the throne. Insecure and neurotic, Queen Anne (Colman) is bossed around by her oldest friend Lady Sarah (Weisz), who is her favourite. But a girl named Abigail (Stone) arrives and upsets everything by getting close to the queen and trying to become her new favourite.

While it’s a film dressed in period clothing and involving the names of real people from history, it’s not really about accuracy. Queen Anne is real, she really was a little neurotic and irritating to those around her sometimes, and Lady Sarah really was a great friend of hers. But this film takes those points and makes it a film about something else entirely. It makes the Queen and Sarah lovers, it makes everyone swear like a sailor, and it makes everyone more than a little grotesque. Everyone in this film is out for themselves and everyone suffers.

The performances in this film are incredible. Everyone has brought their A game, and Olivia Colman as the Queen is remarkable. The dialogue is littered with witty lines that cut through the niceties and go straight for the throat. It’s such an unusual film, in that there’s plenty of comedy in the way people relate, the way people talk, the things they wear and the way they see the world, but it’s also very dark. It’s one thing dressed as another, a period drama with all the correct clothing and locations, but with thoroughly modern dialogue and camera lenses and angles, even the odd dance move. The characters are real people, but completely blown out of proportion to create drama and humour.

On the whole, it’s kind of refreshing because it’s so unusual and hilarious. It feels down to earth and real in some way, or at least about real life concepts and behaviors. And yet, on the other hand, the humour and the darkness of it all, the side of humanity it explores, the intrigues and manipulations, it is grotesque. The use of the fish eye lense in this film feels very appropriate. We are seeing the world as it really is in some ways, but also skewed towards certain dark and comic angles. It’s not an unbiased view, but it’s a really entertaining one.

See It If: you like dark humour and history. This film is full of foul language and foul people, but it’s really very funny and has excellent performances.

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