The Favourite

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The Favourite (2018)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Written by Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara

Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult

Two cousins, Abigail (Stone) and Lady Sarah (Weisz), become rivals for the affection of the frail and eccentric Queen Anne (Colman).

This piece of cinema is based on real events surrounding Queen Anne’s friendships with Lady Sarah Churchill and Abigail Hill. The script was written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (Ashby). Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) directed the film, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The movie would earn an additional nine Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. The cast of the film includes Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz), Rachel Weisz (Denial), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy).

It’s hard to know where to begin with this story.  The writing does a great job of introducing the audience to a unique version of the world. The story is built around a life of politics, intrigue, and decadence. Like the setting, the characters are a collection of unique personalities with distinct voices. The dialogue has a snarky edge to it that really works well throughout the film. There are also a number of small twists and turns that keep things interesting between the central characters. The weakness of this one is the inconsistency of the story. Much of the writing is fresh and witty, keeping things moving at a great pace. Some moments are wonderful, while others fall flat. Not only does this make the film feel uneven, it also slows the pace considerably at times. Luckily, the good outweighs the bad throughout this one, creating a very fun and unique film. For their work, Davis and McNamara were nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

The actors did some great work with the material they were given. Colman, Stone, and Weisz create a unique a entertaining trio rich with conflict. Olivia Colman leads the way with a performance that ranges from angry to ecstatic, and from desperate to eccentric. Given the tone of the script, she seemed to create just the right version of Queen Anne. She amplifies the eccentricities and demanding nature of her character throughout the film. She also creates great moments opposite her talented co-stars.

Olivia Colman took home the Best Actress Oscar for her work in this one. In addition to working wonderfully with Colman, Stone and Weisz do a great job generating the right energy between their characters. The subtle and not-so-subtle moments between these two really make this one fun. Both of these women were nominated for Best Supporting Actress, though they lost out to Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk). Nicholas Hoult also brings a great performance to this one. The rest of the cast does a good job filling out the world of the story.

The production work on this film has to be acknowledged. The film earned Academy Award nominations for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography. Each of these nominations seems to be well-deserved given the final product. The costuming is particularly striking, providing a vast array of great visuals. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Slow West) did an excellent job creating unique visuals that bring out the best of the sets and locations used for the film.

Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) does not make movies for a wide audience. If you’ve enjoyed his previous works, this is one to check out. If you haven’t, I don’t think this is going to win you over. Still, the film craft that went into this one cannot be discounted. The visuals and the performances are top notch. The story isn’t perfect, but there’s a lot to like about it. I give this one 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 119 Minutes

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