Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is a specialist on absurd forms of cruelty. In The Favourite Lanthimos gives up the absurd for the cruelly humanly comic and comes up with his most nasty and pleasing torment piece yet.
This story of two courtesans (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) vying for the love, affection and the power behind the throne of Queen Anne of England (Olivia Colman) plays like a Restoration comedy directed and modernized by Peter Greenaway with the formalism and painterliness dirtied down and the wit amped up to the Royal high ceiling.
Weisz and Stone, the two ladies in waiting who decide to wait no longer, throw verbal daggers and backstab better than the whining and impatiently awaiting foppish male parliamentarians and rapacious social strivers. When the goutish, loutish, and high maintenance Queen catches on to their schemes, Lanthimos elevates The Favourite to high levels of divine cruelty and human comedy.
All this failings, shaming and conniptions show what mean girls can achieve when they aspire to be not only mean women but Royal bitches.
The japery allows Weisz and Stone to reach career level highs. Olivia Colman delicately balances a role that requires her to be a monster, a woman with needs, and a sovereign. There are hints of Oscar glory for this threesome.
The Favourite wisely leaves its symbolism for its small menagerie of ducks, guinea fowls and bunny rabbits allowing Lanthimos to produce a clear eyed work about beastly intentions.
All photos and videos courtesy of Fox Searchlight.