Wednesday, January 09, 2019

'The Favourite' by Yorgos Lanthimos

9 January 2019

On Tuesday we were at the Odeon in Milton Keynes to see Yorgos Lanthimos’ film ‘The Favourite’, starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne. It’s a dark, quirky, historical drama with some graphic violence, sex and bad language. I’m not sure I would describe it as a comedy, though there are some very funny moments. Yorgos Lanthimos creates a stylish but realistic vision of life within the royal palace in the early 18th century. His repeated use of a distorted wide-angle lens has a voyeuristic feel as we intrude on the domestic life of the Queen and her ladies in waiting. It’s great to see a film with three (fairly evenly shared) leading parts for women, with most of the men depicted as buffoons. Olivia Colman and Emma Stone both have incredibly expressive faces, often shown in extreme close-up so you can almost see the thoughts moving behind their eyes – while Rachel Weisz maintains an un-moving deadpan throughout most of the film. The screenplay, by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, cleverly shifts the audience’s sympathies between the warring characters as the story progresses. It’s an odd film which will not be to everyone’s taste but Olivia Colman is superb and I enjoyed reading up afterwards about a period of British history that was previously a blind-spot for me.

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