The Favourite: Venice Film Review

After the success of The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, I was naturally very excited about Yorgos Lanthimos‘ The Favourite. It also helped that it starred the wonderful Emma Stone, who surprises in a role you’ve never seen her in before.

She plays Abigail Hill, a lady fallen on hard times who goes to cousin Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), Queen Anne (Olivia Colman)’s right-hand woman, and asks for work as a maid in the royal household. However, Abigail has no intention of staying in such a lowly station and uses her scheming, conniving nature to move up the ranks and become the Queen’s new best friend, effectively ousting Sarah, who has been using the Queen’s frail condition to steer her on political matters.

We are used to seeing Stone playing sympathetic, nice characters. She never gets to play nasty, she couldn’t possibly with that innocent face and angelic eyes, but she’s finally given her chance. She appears like an ordinary, lovely girl trying to please her cousin and the Queen, but it’s all a lie and she is always looking for ways to get ahead, no matter who gets in her way. It was refreshing to see Stone in such a role and I was impressed with her British accent. Weisz was reliably excellent and seemed to relish her part.

If you’ve seen any of Lanthimos’ previous work you’ll know this was never going to a straightforward period drama. It is 100% a comedy, even though it’s not billed as one, and totally wacky at that. Some moments are so bizarre that I just couldn’t believe it. It is very funny though, with Colman being the most obvious comedy player, followed by Nicholas Hoult as politician Harley and Joe Alwyn as Masham, Abigail’s love interest (otherwise known as her route back to being a lady).

Even if you went in expecting weird, some things will probably still surprise you, such as how sexually charged it is, how oddball and bonkers it is, how some lines are delivered, the occasional use of a fish eye lens, and Alwyn and Colman’s dance.

The Favourite may be too much for some, but it is the most obviously entertaining compared with Lanthimos’ previous two. I wasn’t sold on the way it ended, but the story is good fun and I laughed out loud a lot.

Set for UK cinema release in January 2019

SEE ALSO: Pics of Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn arriving at the festival

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