★★★★★ - STUFF
- Emma Stone, Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz's blast from the past.
- The only other Yorgos Lanthimos-directed films I've seen are 2015's The Lobster and 2017's The Killing of the Sacred Deer. They each became one of my absolute favourite films of their respective years.
So I walked into The Favourite with my expectations unavoidably soaring. And again Lanthimos delivered.
The film sees Lanthimos in territory closer to Lobster than Deer. It is the closest he has come to making a simple comedy that I know of. Which means there is absolutely nothing simple or predictable about any of it.
The year is 1708. England is at war with anyone in Europe who has better weather than them. But the real battle is happening at the summer residence of Queen Anne, and the two women – Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham – who are locked in mortal combat to become the Queen's "favourite".
Whoever wins this titanic brawl of passive-aggressive subterfuge and sabotage with quite probably be rewarded with houses, a dizzyingly well-remunerated marriage and complete license to hire, fire, shag and terrorise pretty much anyone else within the Palace walls. Whoever comes second will be left holding the end of the stick with the poo on it.
In the leads, Olivia Colman is magnificently unhinged and colossally bewildered as the good Queen. Meanwhile, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone both revel in roles full-to-bursting with pratfalls, great mouthfuls of savoury and spectacularly obscene dialogue and wardrobe extravagance that would make Imelda Marcos blush.
Around these three, the men in The Favourite – including Nicholas Hoult and Mark Gatiss – are mostly preening airheads too concerned with their wigs and make-up to notice just how intellectually and tactically outgunned they are by the women they still believe themselves to be superior to.
The Favourite is a blast. This proudly literate and happily bawdy film is being picked as a dark horse in the Oscar race already.
If it does get it's nose over the line, that whooping and cheering you hear from a bar on Wellington's Adelaide Road will be me.
- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF