Once again, Yorgos Lanthimos has a little fun with the madness that lurks within all of us.
Raise your hand if you like a little squirm with your entertainment. One, two, three, four, five, six of you. Ok, cool. About what I expected. Not everyone is down for some misery mixed in with their comedy. That is totally acceptable… and understandable.
Certainly even fewer want to see a dog kicked to death between the schadenfreude guffaws found within Yorgos Lanthimos‘ dystopian rom-com fantasy The Lobster, but those that survived beyond that horrific moment discovered a twisted morality play chockablock with emotional truth. The Greek filmmaker is a special breed of the cinematic torturer. Often, I find myself watching his films through my fingers and clenched teeth. By credits end, my stomach may feel a tad funny, but the experience resonates and traps itself within the mind.
Eventually, you develop a palate for Lanthimos or even a craving. The Lobster was my first taste, and after it settled, I went scrounging for Dogtooth and eagerly awaited The Killing of a Sacred Deer. By that point, I was one of the converted, preaching his word to the fearful. Winning some to my cause, but not all.
We’ve had less than a year to recover from his last venture, but Lanthimos already has another confection for us to devour. The Favourite reteams the director with Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman from The Lobster and adds Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, and Mark Gatiss to the mix. If you thought The Madness of King George savaged the royal court, then prepare yourself for an outright onslaught.
Well, The Favourite may not look as weird on the surface as The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, but there are still plenty of oddities to give a fan a smirk or a hater a grimace. In early 18th century England, Colman’s Queen Anne is on the verge of a colossal mental break. Fun fact not depicted in the trailer, Queen Anne survived seventeen pregnancies (seven of them miscarriages, five of the births stillborn) from Prince George of Denmark, so who could blame her bouts with insanity?
Lanthimos is packing his royal drama with the usual infighting skirmishes, shadowy betrayals, and absurd revelations of wealth. However, where some might blink at the atrocities of the high court, Lanthomos is happy to linger. It’s within that linger where some viewers chuckle and others flee to the hills.
Weisz is playing Lady Sarah, the governess who rules when Queen Anne cannot overcome her sickly nature. Stone is the new house servant that has definitely bitten off more than she can chew and will either rise to the challenge or collapse under the horror of it all. Also, let’s not forget the burgeoning war on the horizon, threatening to rip the kingdom in two.
I am here for it all. Give me all the duck racing, skeet shooting, forest screaming Lanthimos can throw at us. I’m not sure The Favourite will win over a ton of new fans to his aesthetic, but we’ll acquire one or two more into the fold.