Director Yorgos Lanthimos takes us back to 18th Century England in the new trailer for The Favourite. The film opened to glowing reviews at the Venice Film Festival and a few days later screened in Telluride. Rachel Weisz plays the Lady Sarah, a lady-in-waiting to the ailing Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Emma Stone’s Abigail plays Sarah’s cousin who arrives in the royal court and is put to work by Weisz as a maid. Abigail discovers Sarah and Anne are having an affair and as our own Zhou-Ning Su says in his Venice review, “she starts to play a game of seduction and manipulation that gets ugly pretty quickly.”
Highly-anticipated, the film is swirling in Oscar buzz. “In addition to its sumptuous visuals and delectable wit, this must-see Fox Searchlight release offers a balanced triumvirate of formidable female leads rich in surprising character shadings. Without a trace of didactic protofeminism, their roles speak volumes about the savvy required of women to use their influence in a bitterly divided political landscape, not to mention pursue their personal agendas.” said David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter after the film screened in Venice. He goes on to say, “Visually, the movie is a feast. Lanthimos is working for the first time with Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan. Shooting on 35mm, he shifts from formal framing to off-kilter perspectives, supple movement and disorienting wide-angle views as the camera shifts from the vast kitchens to the wooden staircases, echoing corridors, airy drawing rooms and plush private chambers of the principal location, Hatfield House, a Jacobean estate in Hertfordshire. Production designer Fiona Crombie stuffs the queen’s rooms with fine brocade tapestries and gilt, further insulating the monarch’s hermetic world. Lastly, there’s no costume designer more skilled at injecting sly touches of modernity into period wardrobe than Powell; her stunning work here has a theatrical flair that seems just right for characters so outside the parameters of the average British period film.”
EW’s Chris Nashawaty commented, “Led by three fantastic actresses working at the height of their powers, The Favourite is a snapshot of the scheming court of Queen Anne during the early 1700s. But this couldn’t be further from the corsets and curtsies of your typical Hollywood prestige period piece. It’s more like All About Eve directed by a Satyricon-era Fellini all hopped up with enough sex, deviance, hypocrisy, decadence, and spicy profanity to make your average Masterpiece Theatre patron reach into their PBS tote bag for some smelling salts.”
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman wrote, “There’s a place in the universe for this sort of Masterpiece Theatre of Doom haughty cutthroat classicism; every once in a while, it can be a toxic tonic. The Favourite, written with icy eloquence by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara and directed by Lanthimos with a lavish cunning that shows off what a craftsman he can be, is good enough to qualify as a jaded gem. Our society, if anything, is in a darker place now than it was when Barry Lyndon or Dangerous Liaisons came out. The Favourite revels in its posh inhumanity, but that only makes it seem in tune with the times. It’s poised to be a specialty hit and, possibly, an awards player.
Costume design, Production design and screenplay? Picture? Director? As for acting, Sasha wrote in her Best Actress poll, “Olivia Colman in The Favourite — the problem with this film is that it seems like there are three female performances of equal import. The Favourite revolves around Emma Stone, who seems like the lead, but it then switches and becomes Colman’s story. This might lead to category confusion. She is certainly good enough to earn recognition for her work here, though I suspect all three of them would have a much better chance in the supporting category.”