THE FAVOURITE is a Naughty Period Romp

Yorgos Lanthimos is one weirdly awesome director that tickles my fancy with nearly every film he’s released. My first outing was THE LOBSTER and it was so weird I considered counselling. Then there was 2017’s THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, a masterpiece film that was one of my Top Five of last year. So when I saw the trailer for THE FAVOURITE I had to see it. As luck would have it 20th Century Fox had a press screening in Gold Class and I got myself a seat!

THE FAVOURITE runs for 119 beautiful minutes, it’s rated MA15+ and has a shitload of swear words – be warned the C-Bomb is in regular use but it’s glorious. It is releasing on Wednesday 26th December aka Boxing Day in Australia.


The Favourite Rachel Weisz image
Rachel Weisz

BY JASON KING

THE FAVOURITE SYNOPSIS:

Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.


The Favourite Olivia Colman image
Olivia Colman

A WONDERFULLY NAUGHTY SINISTER COMEDY:

This is not your usual Lanthimos movie, firstly, it is actually based on a true story. It definitely has the Lanthimos oddity to it and my god he does comedy well. This is a period tragedy comedy lesbian love triangle and it takes a good long look at ambition in the English Royal Courts. It ticks off paranoia, jealousy, desire, betrayal and the actual downside of regal decadence. It will keep you engaged throughout the entire movie with its extra nasty soap opera storytelling made to near perfection.

I will talk about the acting later but for now the direction is a masterpiece, the cinematography sublime, the location of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, just stunning and the art direction and costumes on another level.

The black comedy, evilness, wit and abundant caustic sarcasm from three of the leads (Weisz, Stone and Hoult) will keep you in hilarity and the depth of Colman ties it all together.

MINOR NEGATIVES:

One thing I didn’t like, that lost some points from my score, is that some of the best scenes were spoiled by being in the trailer and for once Lanthimos didn’t go far enough. I would have loved this to go murderous or at least held back in the trailers somewhat so we had those moments of comedy genius revealed while we were watching. I never realised it was a true story until I started writing, of course it is embellished to hell and back so I can forgive the murderous request now.


The Favourite Emma Stone image
Emma Stone

THE ACTING WILL WIN OSCARS:

This film contains the best acting of the year, no doubt. There are four Oscar-Nomination worthy performances in this film and one of them has got to be the odds on favourite to win the Oscar. Olivia Colman gives a performance that steals every scene, steals everything from this movie. This is the role Colman was born to play, it was absolute perfection. It is comedy, drama, passion, tragedy and she nails every nuance of the performance.

My mouth was agape watching her light up the screen. Single best scene is her berating a junior foot-servant, it is making me laugh just thinking about it now – “Look at Me.” And while her hilarity lights up the screen it is her sombre moments when she knows things aren’t all strawberries and cream, mostly acted through her eyes and facial expressions that triumph this marvel.

Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are marvellous contestants for The Queen’s favour and while their banter and competitiveness are wonderful they cancel each other out by being exactly the same and as good/bad as each other and also overshadowed in every scene by Colman. And I have to applaud Hoult, my second favourite character in this movie. He is just so cunty and it is cheer worthy. If you are offended by my description of him then perhaps this movie is not for you. His campness and pure evil is something only Joan Collins has achieved in DYNASTY.


The Favourite Nicholas Hoult image
Nicholas Hoult

IN CONCLUSION:

THE FAVOURITE is a masterpiece period film like no other period film. It is a hell of a lot of deep dark black hilarity. It is worth seeing it for Colman alone with the single best performance of 2018. And mark my words, this film has Oscars waiting in the wings for collection.




YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.