November 15, 2018

VIFF 2018 | Emma Stone Curries 'The Favourite'

"Sometimes a lady likes to have some fun."
Rachel Weisz Emma Stone Yorgos Lanthimos | The Favourite | VIFF 2018

VIFF 2018—Celebrated Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos transplants himself to the intrigue of an 18th century British costume melodrama for his latest darkly comic exploration of human nature. Essentially a three-hander between the almost equally wonderful Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone as the sickly Queen Anne, the controlling Duchess of Marlborough, and her scheming servant cousin, The Favourite is a delicious dramatization of the absurd world of royal influence and upper crust politics told through a decidedly female lens.

How Lanthimos and his actresses explore the complex view of power is so juicy and revealing. The trio is nothing short of phenomenal and get so much meaty material. Loosely based on actual historical events and rumours, Colman as Anne is so batty just as Stone and Weisz prove cunning in their wielding of power and influence over their susceptible queen. Stone's shifty innocence never over reveals her ambition and determination whilst Weisz is so effortlessly ruthless and deliberate in her wielding of power.

Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara's script beautifully streamlines events as to almost never leave the Queen's royal palace and focus entirely on the concerns of the three women characters. Each has their own power despite their relative disparity in stature. Despite being the first film Lanthimos has not co-written, the film's tenor is just as absurd and twisted as his other trademark cinematic efforts.

Rachel Weisz Emma Stone Yorgos Lanthimos | The Favourite | VIFF 2018

Cinematographer Robbie Ryan frames The Favourite with a harsh modernity employing many wide-angle shots, fisheye lens work, Steadicam sequences, and whip-pans that should be more dizzying and unnatural than they actually appear. Everything composed feels so fully realized you easily forget the historical period and characters. Lathimos makes you lose yourself in the dramatic intrigue so flawlessly.

The Favourite manages to be completely modern and contemporary while keeping its stylish anachronisms somehow obvious yet seamless. It's endlessly entertaining in its opulence and deception of female power even in spite of their occasional powerlessness. Stone, Weisz, and Colman perform exceptionally despite both their character similarities and differences in how they express desire.

The Favourite screened at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Panorama stream.


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