Sam Van Hallgren’s review published on Letterboxd:
The sounds that open and close the film, the sounds we hear before we see anything and then again after the screen goes black, are the sounds of the outside at night as a cold wind blows. Unsheltered, unprotected, at the mercy of whatever we might encounter. Underneath the deadpan cruelty and absurd luxury of Queen Anne’s court, Lanthimos shows genuine horror - and sorrow - at what life outside the warmth of court feels like. Coming from a Greek director, this seemed a pretty clear indictment of how countries like Greece (formerly prosperous, with a long tradition of nobility, who have recently been disgraced by gross financial mismanagement) have been treated like poor, shit-stained country cousins by their wealthier neighbors. Is the U.S. the gout-ridden, in-over-her-head monarch, spilling blood and treasure on a misguided and never-ending war? Maybe. But whether the film is a clever geopolitical satire or not, there is a sense by the end that there is nothing to be gained when everyone is in it for themselves. That, ultimately, only leads to darkness. Lanthimos isn’t preaching to us. Nor does he suggest an alternative. He’s just calling it as he sees it.
I was intrigued, but not quite involved in the film for quite a while. And then the scene with Weisz backing out of the Queen’s bedroom and staggering down the hall with the candle. A startling emotional gut punch and a wondrous piece of acting, directing and camerawork. Also where the movie got its claws into me.
Also: Olivia Colman goodness gracious. The childlike joy that occasionally broke over her face. And then the pain. The scene of her watching the dancing. Just makes you grateful that you’re alive to witness artistry like that.