The Favourite: Blu Ray Review
Building on the comic unease that's helped Yorgos Lanthimos carve a career and saw him hit a more mainstream audience with The Lobster, The Favourite emerges late in the year as both a potential award winner and best of the year, thanks to its delicious and devilish nastiness.
Set in the court of Queen Anne (Colman, delivering on multiple fronts and without ever missing a beat) in 18th Century England, it's a story of rivalry and a period piece that's clothed in black humour.
Anne is frail, and Lady Sarah (a curt and crisp Weisz) rules the country in her stead; but when her cousin Abigail (Stone) enters the court looking for work, Lady Sarah finds her world unsettled and the power dynamics changed forever.
The Favourite is a combination of a triptych of actors at their absolute pinnacle, dealing with material that's superlative.
Boiling down a microcosm of social interaction over a two hour period, filtering it through a prism of cutting dialogue and dynamics and then playing it out with gusto, The Favourite's acerbic touches make for greatly rewarding times in the cinema.
Lanthimos' use of fisheye lenses and whip-pan shots within the court are dizzying and exciting, a call to arms for how period movies could be presented.
But it's his actors who make this film what it is. From the fact all of the men within the film are varying degrees of buffoons to Olivia Colman's utterly compelling turn from the start, The Favourite is a delicacy worth devouring.
Balanced with off-kilter humour, and moments that drip with double meaning, Lanthimos builds an atmosphere of uncertainty from the frailties of humanity, picking at insecurities like scabs, and exposing the wounds below.
The central trio are more than worthy of praise, with the cameras lingering on moments that offer glimpses into what's bubbling deep below. This is more than a film that delights in the details, it's one which sees Stone, Weisz and Colman utterly deliver on their characters by offering so much with so little.
Colman in particular delivers a powerhouse performance of pain and conflict, as gout debilitates her and leaves her at the whims of those around her. But she has a fire too when provoked, and Lanthimos' desire to showcase it adds to the power. Stone and Weisz make for delicious sparring partners as the power dynamics shift, and the claws come out.
But The Favourite is more than a film exposing female insecurities and weaknesses; it's a portrait of strength under fire, and a towering movie that is commanding from beginning to end.