Elle Driver’s review published on Letterboxd:
When you're a woman know that sexuality is a gift, this gift gives you power. This power can manipulate, this power can celebrate, what would you do with this power? Would you let go? Would you surrender? I can make you surrender.
The above is an excerpt on female sexuality from sex icon herself Beyoncé. I find that it's an extremely fitting way to describe Yorgos Lanthimos newest creation; The Favourite. The Favourite is insane and crude from start to finish but that's to be expected from Yorgos Lanthimos, the man behind the ludicrous The Lobster, the ridiculously odd Dogtooth, and the poetically sinister The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. But in The Favourite, Lanthimos doesn't just get crude he crafts an intelligent film that is self-aware of its themes and works as a true spectacle of remarkable filmmaking.
It's fun to be Queen sometimes.
In The Favourite Lanthimos brings all of his trademark qualities and ups them a notch to the utmost perfection. The camera work is calculated and restrained with genuine brilliance. The camera is almost Kubrickian as it pans perfectly allowing the audience to peak into every exuberant set piece and filming location. Every shot is framed and positioned so well that there is no way you can walk out of this film and not believe Yorgos is a master craftsman at directing. Natural lighting, rich primary colors, beautiful set pieces, and tightly wound shots all make The Favourite visual grandeur. Huge shout out to Robbie Ryan for this films cinematography and no surprise this is the same guy behind the cinematography for American Honey. The costumes are simply exquisite. There's an abundance in black and white in the costumes especially amongst the three leads. The pitch blacks and pure virgin whites contrast perfectly with the colorful tapestries, vibrant flowers, and paintings that cover the walls of these rooms. The hair and makeup is exaggerated and ghostly but beautiful as are each of the ominous set pieces. The tory men are donning pasty white makeup and towering wigs while the liberals go for a darker look. The sound is sublime as well with some beautifully entrancing instrumentation. This movie is going to be a huge Oscar player in the technical categories and I would not be surprised if it manages to pull an Oscar sweep. And how could I not mention the films script? The dialogue is witty and quirky all the while being venomous and razor sharp. Seriously some of the dialogue is so tongue in cheek that it just feels ridiculous on the ears. The direction of the narrative and plot was pretty surprising as well since I didn’t really expect it to go in the direction it does.
Everything is sex, except sex, which is power, you know power is just sex.
Characterization is everything in The Favourite. This film is guided by the colorful personalities of the films leading ladies and their interactions with their world and thankfully they are each played to perfection by all three of these women. There’s Sarah who is played by Rachel Weisz. Weisz’s Lady Sarah is a ballsy woman brought to life by a performance that bridges between acrimonious and vindictive. Sarah has some of the best lines in the film and she’s arguably the backbone of the film. Much of the plot revolves around Sarah and she’s in ways at the epicenter of this weird triangle relationship. Weisz completely kills it as Sarah and she will have you in stitches at just how mean and dominant she is as Sarah. Then there is Emma Stone as Abigail. Abigail first arrives covered in mud looking as though she’s went through hell to reach her destination after being thrown out of a carriage. Abigail is unpredictable and it's impossible to have a certain opinion towards her conniving ways. She's the kind of character you should probably hate yet there's something so charming about her. Her convictions and motivations are desperate but she soon begins to understand the game at hand and begins to put her assets to her own use. She’s young, beautiful, seductive, and menacing; the perfect muse for those blinded by their own indulgence and temptation. Emma Stone’s ability to command a scene through her expressiveness and her inviting eyes is used to the fullest extent in this unbelievably incredible performance. There’s also Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne. Queen Anne is almost like an impressionable child. She doesn’t have the composure or the noble attitude like one would expect a queen should. Instead Queen Anne is her own definition of a queen. She’s not exactly royally beautiful or quite the physical match for a Queen of her time but she still wears her crown with grace. Queen Anne is a tragic character. She’s insatiable and unhappy with her kingdom and it rings true in various moments in the film. She’s an 18th century crazy cat lady except instead with cute bunnies. Olivia Colman’s performance is boisterous and completely stunning in what is my personal pick for the best actress award come next year. The ladies of The Favourite feel deeply feminine and in essence a satire on the expectations of women of their time period. They behave just as crudely as the men and arguably more so than the men. The chemistry between these characters and the male characters (most notably Nicolas Hoult) make for some of the most laugh out loud moments of the year.
Some wounds do not close.
The Favourite surpassed all of my expectations and then some. I was a huge fan of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer and I would probably say it’s one of the best films of the decade. I would have never imagined that one year later Lanthimos would release a film that excels it on every level and yet here we are. The Favourite is a striking film to look at and immerse yourself in, it plays out like an 18th century melodrama and reminds me of many of the tragic dramas I’ve read from Germanic and Anglo-Saxon literature. The Favourite is wildly insane and darkly beautiful in the most Lanthimos fashion imaginable. Every single piece just feels perfectly placed in this film that works as a satirical drama that examines a story of corruption, power, sexuality, and wealth through these unconventional and complex women. The Favourite is a stylish, artsy, violent, dazzling, and lethal period tragicomic that mesmerizes with magnificent work from every single person involved.
There’s always a price to pay, I am prepared to pay it.