Satirical acting turns ‘The Favourite’ into a delightful experience

“The Favourite” encompasses the unique acting of 3 actresses to create an unconventional story of humor. 

“The Favourite” encompasses the unique acting of 3 actresses to create an unconventional story of humor. 

Image By: Photo Courtesy of Den of Geek

It’s the early eighteenth century and Great Britain is at war with France. An unstable Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) holds the throne in England; her trusted friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governing for her while the queen deals with an injury. Along comes young Abigail (Emma Stone) – Sarah’s cousin – who works in service for the queen and soon forms a close bond with her, infuriating a jealous Sarah and triggering a tense conflict between the two women over the queen’s attention. 

In what sounds like a generic timepiece, director Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”) generates one of the wittiest and most original films of the year. From the very beginning, “The Favourite” promises a fulfilling and unconventional film-viewing experience. 

What makes this film work so beautifully is how it uses wickedly irreverent and brutally honest comedy appropriately, not overusing it to the point it becomes unrealistic. Instead, the film plays out comically in a natural way, the characters acting and being presented as naturally flawed people instead of just their titles as queens, servants, or wealthy lords. 

Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in the film THE FAVOURITE. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The tension that rises builds so organically and is executed to perfection by the three main characters. Olivia Colman as Queen Anne is a riot to observe: her outrageous behavior and erratic nature the perfect combination of fun and unpredictability. Emma Stone, an actress who I personally find irritable in her films, is charming, deceiving, and hilarious, her combative scenes with Rachel Weisz exuberant and show-stopping. Weisz, channeling a woman as cold as ice, is at her all-time best. Witnessing these three brilliant performances match up against each other forms multiple scenes of twisted comedic gold and tense conflicts that explode into something truly special. 

Lanthimos does a good job reminding his audience to laugh at his characters and not with them throughout their quirky journey. We’re never told who to root for or who to side with, instead presented with various women whose actions and personalities you loathe, yet would want to have a laugh with. Lanthimos also excels at not drowning us in historic detail, instead focusing on the people involved with the historical conflicts occurring and not the conflicts themselves. 

The unconventional storytelling methods and charming vision that “The Favourite” possesses is a wildly original work that while looks pretty – the costumes and production design are stunning and realistic – presents a disastrous mess that quietly unfolds into subtle chaos.

Final Grade: A

Dominic LeRose is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.

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