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The Favourite: London Film Festival Review 2018

The Favourite

An excellent cast heads up the latest offering from Yorgos Lanthimos, which gets its UK premiere at London Film Festival. Marie loved the beginning more than the end.


Anyone who knows the previous films of Yorgos Lanthimos will be aware of his style to date: creative bordering on the absurd, delivered in a deadpan tone so that it’s up to the audience to decide which sections they laugh at.

The Favourite is a little bit of a departure former  Lanthimos, in that the deadpan tone is gone – the borderline absurdity is there, however, as is an outstanding cast at the top of their game, specifically Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Nicholas Hoult.

Olivia plays Queen Anne, ailing monarch (and incidentally, queen in her own right, a rarity for British monarchs) pulled in all directions by her government and its opposition. Her lady-in-waiting Lady Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) is her favoured – and trusted – adviser, but is about to be challenged for the role by maid Abigail (Emma Stone, whose English accent I would put at a very good 98%). Nicholas Hoult is Lord Harley, effectively Britain’s Prime Minister at the time.

For the most part, the men are ridiculous peacocks driven by their nether regions, with the women very much in charge of themselves and, as it turns out, international politics. There’s a nice touch where Emma Stone wipes make-up off the face of a fancily-dressed lord, and a great dance scene with some very non-period moves.

The Favourite looks stunning. With Robbie Ryan on cinematography and Sandy Powell in charge of costumes, why wouldn’t it? And it was definitely entertaining for the most part; although I would say that the first half was significantly stronger than the second when it seemed to lose track of the original mood and I stopped trying to understand what was going on and why. Towards the end, I realised that I wasn’t experiencing the usual discomfort of inappropriate laughter which is a hallmark of the director, and that saddened me a little.

I’ve never disliked any films by Yorgos Lanthimos, but The Favourite is not going to be top of the list.

Olivia Colman, however, should be queen in her own right – how she isn’t even a Dame already I’ll never understand.

The Favourite is in theaters November 23rd

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